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Warning: “Fonehouse” Fraud

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Please let me know where else I should report this scam.

Was cold-called by “Fonehouse” to upgrade with Three. Have confirmed with Fonehouse that this is a scam. Also sent it to three for their records.

Asked to make a decision today, I requested the “offer” be sent to an email I have for just these types of interactions. 

The sender email address looked legit enough to an untrained eye. The offer was on three letterhead with all three’s policies hyperlinked correctly.

I was called from 0161 524 6896 (Manchester). Spoke to “David”. 

Fonehouse and three are in Berkshire so that was the first red flag.

Second was there being no reason why three wouldn’t want to deal with me (ie take my money directly) themselves as their customer (not fonehouse’s)

third red flag was the strange phone number and that “I couldn’t call back unless I was willing to wait for hours”

Be safe everyone.

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  • username
    username Posts: 656 Forumite
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    It's been around for as long as third party phone dealers have been around.

    Not sure why the Fonehouse name gets used quite a lot for this, it probably isn't too great for their brand.

    Mind you, they used to call pretending they were from the carphone warehouse back in the day.

    The other part to the story of how they get the phone is that the criminals either intercept the parcel in some way (have it diverted to a collection point, shop or address they know is part of the scam, and then one of the accomplices collects). Or they just hang around the property and simply nick the parcel.

    They have also been known to then call the 'buyer' back up with some rubbish excuse (like sent wrong phone, model, colour etc) and then get the 'buyer' to ship the phone to an address that is not that of the retailer's office or returns place, and so pocketing the phone that way, or send a 'courier' to the house to pick up the item, pretending they're from DPD/Royal Mail etc or even luring in a taxi driver to do the work for them.

    Obviously when the scam becomes uncovered the phone is likely long gone and sold at a sharp discount to an unsuspecting mark via a marketplace site (gumtree, facebook etc) who thinks they're getting the latest phone for a steal or reprogrammed.

    Either way, the phone gets bricked when it is found out, the dealer loses the commission for the phone and the person is left with a dented credit record.

    Beware people phoning offering the world, and don't ever give your card or personal details out.

    Hopefully OP used a disposable email or one they use for spam and signups as no doubt your entire profile will be on a 'suckers list' and you will get a lot of unwanted emails/calls etc as a result now.

    Do not be afraid to put the phone down and call back on the number on their website if you're ever unsure.
  • WebDude
    WebDude Posts: 7 Forumite
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    Kej said:

    I was called from 0161 524 6896 (Manchester). Spoke to “David”. 

    third red flag was the strange phone number

    and that “I couldn’t call back unless I was willing to wait for hours”
    Not sure why the phone number is considered "strange" unless you know a company is not in a particular location.

    After a quick check 0161 524 was identified as a 'geographic virtual' number from a firm with a London address but called Twilio Ireland.   A lot of virtual number services are available free or at low cost, so for example I once had a phone number of 0151 701 7010 (*) (but it was too close to a taxi firm number so I got charged a small per minute fee for forwarding the call to my number, and of course, most calls were when pubs and clubs closed so anytime after midnight from drunk people typing in a misremembered taxi firm...  and of course if I answered and told them 'wrong number' they'd get angry and call me back)...

    (*) many services offer geographic numbers for every exchange code, as well as 0800, 0808, 0330, etc codes.
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