There's a case of phone fraud targeting BTL's cellular customers - and if you fall prey to it, you could lose all your credits!
It appears as random international calls to DigiCell numbers - that only ring once and then appear as missed calls. And if you call back the number, then your credit balance is automatically sucked dry. BTL is investigating, but we wanted answers so we spoke to Dr. Dionne Miranda - General Manager of Customer Services:...
Dr. Dionne Miranda, General Manager of Customer Services
"The reason why we are doing that Monica is that we don't have control over what is happening. Actually the customer has control over their personal devices and the only thing that we can recommend is that they do not respond to these calls and they do not return the calls because that is how it appears the scam is being done."
"It doesn't happen when the calls come into our network because it's using our network at that point. It's when you dial back out and you use the external providers' network to get the call is where they are able to pull and confiscate your telephone minutes."
"One of the things that we have to realize is that all of us get a numbering series and we register that into the Public Utilities Commission. For us and our competitor pretty much if you dial any number within a particular series, say for instance one of our series is 636 - you can call from 636 1000 right through to 9999 and you will get a BTL customer and conversely."
"Realistically it's not very hard. We actually follow a number series and the minute you open up a prefix it's just follows directly after that."
"Will the calls stop at any point?"
Dr. Dionne Miranda
"One of the things that BTL has found out about scam people is that they are a bit lazy. They don't necessarily want to delve further. It's a quick scam. They are trying to make money very rapidly, so once they realize that Belizeans are aware and that the information is out there and they no longer being trapped and that systems are being put into effect to ensure that it doesn't occur - then they move on to the next country."
"In fact from what we understand is that this has been a Caribbean focus direction. Right now its Caribbean focus but it may well be Europe; it may well be other parts of the world."
"What they do is they pretty much sniff out where there is a leakage and where there is ease of access and where people are not as knowledgeable and then they just jumped in."
"We are not exactly sure and we are investigating and like I said we've done a bit of web searching as well but one of the things you have to realize is that whenever a call goes out we pay a settlement to the international provider. So, those calls that go out we will get a bill for it and some of them may have set up with a VOIP provider in the States that they have like a premium number for instance which cost like maybe $15 a minute or however they want to do and then there is a correlation where they share the profits."
"We are not exactly sure because we are not involved within a scam environment like this, but that is typically how it is being done. So basically you have to have set up with some level of provider that will terminate your calls. The scam artist also has to have a premium number in place. So these numbers when we check it into our system they are not charge at regular international rates. When we get the bill that comes from that international settlement provider it will be high bills - trust me."
"We do have to pay for it. A lot of customers are saying 'I didn't know,' but we still have to pay that bill when it comes in, the same way that you had to pay it when you made that call. Which is why it's a conscious decision - don't return these calls. Find out who it is and find out what it's all about before you return because that is when the scam begins - not on the inward direction."
According Miranda, a thorough investigation is underway in an effort to bring these perpetrators of this fraudulent action to an immediate halt. But in the meantime customers are advised not to answer or return calls from unknown international numbers and block them immediately. Also note that the scam seems to occur more frequently during the company's Double Up promotions.