British Telecom in call centre fraud to ensure winning of one billion pound business contract

London, Sept. 14: British Telecom covered up a massive fraud by call centre staff to ensure it won a new contract worth more than one billion pounds, an employment tribunal was told.

According to the Daily Mail, call centre staff made millions of 'false' calls on auto diallers to make sure bonus-linked performance targets were met under a lucrative contract handling calls from Ministry of Defence bases.

It said that the fraud had been going on for at least four years and involved staff members phoning themselves to ensure calls were answered under the time allowed.

Former BT manager Joseph Hewson, sacked in the scam, claims he was made a scapegoat
An examination of phone records found one operator who would normally handle 100 calls in an eight-hour shift was logged as handling 412 calls in just over one hour.

A tip off to the MoD in 2004 about the scam was passed to BT to investigate at a time when the contract was up for renewal, the tribunal in Leeds heard.

The contract was renewed in April 2005 and six months later when another tip led to a second investigation the fraud was exposed, leading to five BT managers losing their jobs.

Hewson was one of them and has taken BT to a tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.

The fraud involved four call centres at Wakefield, St Helens on Merseyside, Dumbarton in Scotland and Kettering, Northamptonshire.

The tribunal heard the scam became so sophisticated that computerised auto-diallers were installed at the call centre to generate large numbers of false calls.

The Ministry of Defence said a 'thorough and wide-ranging investigation' had been carried out into the 'artificial inflation' of target-linked 'successful' calls and compensation would be paid. (With Inputs from ANI)

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