Cash-strapped council hit by £20,000 scam

A POLICE investigation is underway after a financially-stricken Yorkshire council was duped out of more than £20,000 in a phone scam.

Business owners have been warned by North Yorkshire Police officers to ensure their phone systems are secure to prevent other organisations falling victim to the fraudsters.

It is understood the council was targeted during the festive season, when most of its offices were not staffed. The scam involves hacking into businesses’ internal phone network to gain the access code. The system is then set to divert any unanswered calls to a premium rate number, charging the firm and not the fraudsters.

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PC Nick Hill, who is involved in the inquiry, said: “This type of fraud is mainly committed when offices are not staffed such as at night or during holiday periods.

“I urge business owners to ensure that they have the best possible security in place to protect their phone networks. And if they don’t need to use the divert facility, they should contact their service provider to ensure that it is fully disabled.”

The county council is battling £69m in cutbacks amid the Government’s austerity drive.