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Phone scam could cost Flintshire charity thousands of pounds

Flintshire Local Voluntary Council chief officer Kieran Duff and colleagues are furious after fraudsters left them with a huge phone bill

A FLINTSHIRE charity could be left thousands of pounds out of pocket after fraudsters hacked into their phone system.

Hundreds of calls were made to premium and international numbers over one weekend from the phones at the Corlan building at Mold Business Park, which houses Flintshire Local Voluntary Council (FLVC) and 12 other voluntary organisations.

Now chief officer of FLVC Kieran Duff wants to warn schools, businesses and other charities to protect themselves against the scam.

He said: “We don’t know how much it will have cost us until the bill comes through next week, but we are expecting it to be in the thousands.

“We don’t want to be wasting funds on this, we’ve got our own services to protect and other voluntary groups to support.

“We are already expecting funding cuts and this couldn’t have come at a worse time for us.”

Mr Duff was alerted to the problem by the organisation’s communications provider two weeks ago after hundreds of calls were made during the weekend.

He said he didn’t think the cost would be covered by insurance, but he is seeking legal advice.

“Although our centre hasn’t been burgled the effect is exactly the same,” said Mr Duff.

“This is a faceless crime, but has very serious consequences.

“We would encourage all organisations to have their telephone and IT systems checked to make sure they are as secure as possible.

“Changing passwords and restricting functions on voicemail is very important.”

Police investigations are ongoing.

Detective Sergeant Andrea Barnard, e-Crime Wales police manager, said this type of crime was known as ‘Dial Through Fraud’.

She said: “Dial Through Fraud occurs when hackers hack into switchboard systems and exploit vulnerabilities if they haven’t been installed using the correct security settings by the service provider.”