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Dispute over Mold charity’s fraudulent phone bill

A £3,000 phone bill run up by fraudsters has sparked a dispute between a Flintshire charity and a communications company.

As reported in the Chronicle earlier this month, scammers made hundreds of premium rate and international calls after hacking into the phone system at the Corlan building on Mold Business Park, which houses Flintshire Local Voluntary Council (FLVC) and 12 other charities.

But now Askmore Communications Ltd, which provided the phone system, could be left with a £3,400 deficit because, it claims, the charity is refusing to foot the bill.

Chris Statham, managing director of the company based on Broncoed Business Park, said: “No matter how up to date or advanced the systems are, we can not keep up with the fraudsters.

“There is nothing we can do to stop them.

“The only thing companies can do to make themselves safe is make sure their insurance policy covers them against e-crime.”

Kieran Duff, chief officer of FLVC, said the charity had paid the element of the bill which was for legitimate use, but was consulting with solicitors over the rest of the costs.

Mr Statham said his company had reduced the bill for FLVC from about £10,400 to £4,000 at a cost to itself and the service provider.

“We were able to reduce the calls made to Zimbabwe from £1.40 a minute to 22.5p,” he said.

“The cost of calls made to North Korea and Liberia was also reduced.

“We’ve gone a long way to try and get costs down, but ultimately the charity has a contractual obligation to pay the bill.”

He said Askmore’s senior engineer had done extensive tests but had not been able to determine how the fraudsters had hacked in to the system.

He added: “These criminals are highly skilled and their techniques are always developing.

“This is a new type of activity and nobody really has the answers. All companies can do is check their insurance policies and make sure they are covered.”