MP gets police to investigate BT over rogue dialler scams

CPS takes a peek too

Police investigating cases where BT customers have been ripped off by rogue dialler software have sent a report to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The investigation hinges on whether punters who've been conned out of hundreds of pounds by rogue dialler operators should pay their BT phone bills.

Labour MP Bob Blizzard wrote to the Chief Constable of Suffolk Police after being contacted by constituents stung by rogue diallers.

He asked the police to investigate whether BT was in breach of the Proceeds of Crime Act for taking money from customers caught by the fraud, which is then passed on, eventually, to those behind the scams.

A short report has now been sent to the CPS, the body responsible for prosecuting people in England and Wales charged with a criminal offence. A spokeswoman for the CPS confirmed that the report had been received and that it is "being looked into".

In a statement the MP for Waveney said: "I know that BT didn't want these scams to happen and they have taken steps to better protect customers in future. BT is something of a victim too, but the company shouldn't punish its customers who have already been scammed. It should be big enough to waive the charges for the fraudulent calls."

But BT maintains that when it comes to these illegal calls, its hands are tied.

In a statement it said: "BT cannot refuse to carry the telecommunications traffic unless or until a criminal act is clearly established. Much as BT would like to act on a mere suspicion of potential wrongdoing, unless BT has very concrete evidence it is very difficult to stop calls or withhold money.

"Indeed BT has been sued on occasions when it tried to take pre-emptive action. Rightly or wrongly, case law suggests that in regulated markets decisions to stop the supply of services should be taken by the regulators, not the service provider," it said.

In its latest move against rogue diallers, the UK telco is planning to introduce new modem protection software which is designed to stop computers from dialling premium rate numbers. Trials in Northern Ireland have proved successful and BT is now looking to make the software available from next month. ®

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