Hackers cost council thousands - phone bill

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PHONE HACKERS have broken into Hailsham Town Council’s telephone system leaving the town authority with a hefty bill of £5,000 to pay.

Terry Hall, town council information officer, confirmed the hacking happened on January 12 - but the costs to the council have now been confirmed.

On January 12, the town council’s telephone service provider said a number of international calls had been made ‘in succession’ overnight from 1.30am that morning. It is not known if the hackers came from Africa – which is where other phone hacking incidents, recently reported by the Sussex Express, originated. But the telephone service provider said most of the bogus council calls were made to East Timor and a few to various parts of Eastern Europe.

The total costs of the calls came to £6,270. The telephone service provider has agreed to cover £1,270. But Hailsham Town Council has to pay the remaining £5,000.

Town councillors discussed the issue last month, February, before the costs bill was confirmed.

A town council report said: “The Town Clerk [said] that OFCOM were not able to intervene and other agencies were unable to provide help. International calls were indefinitely barred but it seemed likely that Hailsham Town Council would be liable for approximately £5,000 worth of ‘hacked’ calls.”

The Sussex Express asked what measures were being taken to make sure the council does not become a victim to phone hacking again.

Terry Hall said that all outbound international calls were blocked from the town council’s phone line. This happened with immediate effect on January 12, once notified about the hacking incident.

The phone hacking revelation follows two previous reports of residents falling foul of bogus phone call bills. Jose Tipler, of Hailsham Creative in the High Street, found £100 worth of fraudulent calls made by ‘Gambia Mobile’. Resident Tony Dalby had 15 bogus calls worth £160 to his Beachy Head flat by a Zimbabwean company.