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Web scam costing phone users dearly

Published on 17/11/2004

17 November 2004

BRUSSELS – Consumers in Belgium were warned on Wednesday about crooks who are using people’s internet connections to make expensive phone calls.

Le Soir reported that criminals are increasingly tricking internet users into downloading harmful software onto the hard drive of their PCs.

The software allows the criminals to use the internet line to call landlines like 0903 numbers, which cost EUR1.25 a minute.

The scam has seen some consumers hit with a phone bill for more than EUR 1,000.

“We’ve received more than 500 complaints since the start of the year with an upsurge since July,” said Cecile Coppin, who is responsible for internet monitoring at the Belgian finance ministry.

Antivirus company Symantec’s Benelux section is due to publish a report next week, which will claim a third of computers are already infected with such nuisance software.

Telecoms regulator Jean-Marc Vekeman said unfortunately phone companies like Belgacom and the internet service providers usually make customers pick up the bill for expensive calls made without their knowledge.

However, the authorities have managed exceptionally to make sure some duped customers have been reimbursed.

Consumers have been advised to check their phone bills carefully for suspicious calls they don’t remember making.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news