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Worthing woman's £21,000 stolen phone bill
1:10pm Thursday 21st March 2013 in News
A woman has been handed a £21,000 bill after a thief stole her phone and went on a premium rate spending spree.
Georgia Harris called Vodafone and police to report her mobile phone stolen after discovering it was missing while flying back to Britain from Barcelona.
But it was only when the 23-year-old went into a Vodafone store to collect a new sim card that she was told staff had suspended her account because of “suspicious activity”.
In the hours between her losing sight of her phone on Saturday (March 16) and Vodafone blocking it, a thief had made non-stop conference calls to a premium rate international number – pushing up her bill to £21,183.82.
Vodafone initially told Miss Harris, from Worthing, that she was liable to pay the bill for calls made up until the point she reported it stolen.
It has offered her a maximum £1,500 discount off the bill as a gesture of goodwill – leaving her to pay more than £19,500.
The company has now said it will investigate and will contact her within a week.
Miss Harris said: “I feel terrible.
“As soon as I was back in the UK I reported my phone as stolen to the police and to Vodafone.
“I thought it was all fine but then on Tuesday they told me the account had been locked after a bill of £21,183.82 had been racked for calls I didn’t make.
“Customer services said they know I didn’t make the calls but that I was still responsible because I hadn’t reported it. But I couldn’t as I didn’t realise it was stolen.
"I reported it as soon as I realised it was missing.
“I find it hard to believe they didn’t suspend the account much earlier when they realised the bill was running into thousands.”
A spokeswoman from Vodafone told The Argus the firm was looking into the circumstances behind the loss of the phone and how it was used subsequently.
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