Steve Pardoe's BT Cellnet Fraud Index Page
BT Cellnet are taking money from the accounts of thousands of innocent people without their authority
Logotype of Telecom Securicor Cellular Radio Limited used here for the purposes of illustration and fair comment only. During the life of this campaign, Cellnet have changed their trading name to BT Cellnet. The two may be interpreted interchangeably in what follows.
This is our Cellnet Index page.  On other pages, clicking brings you back here.
And what about O2?  Oh dear.
The "oxygen of publicity" has backfired on BT Cellnet. In French, O2 is pronounced "Odeur"

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
- Edmund Burke

Update 16. May 2011 (links redirected - images won't be referenced, sorry)

BT Cellnet deliberately allow anyone to use anyone else's debit or credit card numbers to top up a pre-pay phone, with complete impunity. Cellnet simply take the money from the victim's bank or credit card account, without any authorisation1, and with absolutely no identity check.

However, there may at last be scope for some optimism. Recent correspondence and press comment suggest that a partial improvement in card security has belatedly been introduced by BT Cellnet. Apparently, the computerised credit/debit card top-up facility now requires the user to key in the numerical part of the postcode of the address at which the card is registered, something the casual browser of till receipts is unlikely to know. We've certainly seen a fall-off in e-mail traffic from victims, though there is a new four-fold one today (see Campaign News, below).

If you can confirm this security improvement, please let us know by e-mail at Thanks.

On the other hand, this additional information is readily available if someone makes a mail order purchase, or gives their address for guarantee purposes, or whatever ; but it's a step in the right direction, and BT Cellnet deserve credit for at least making some effort. Now, let's see them start treating their remaining victims with sympathy and respect.


For more than three years, BT Cellnet have been removing money from thousands of people's bank and credit card accounts, including mine; then cynically fobbing off their victims, and refusing point blank to compensate them for their loss and inconvenience. They've now taken money four times from me and my company, prompting this Internet campaign to assist other victims and draw media attention to Cellnet's disgraceful behaviour. They refuse to cooperate with victims, or the Police, in tracing the fraudulent phone user, leaving people exposed to repeated theft. Cellnet prefer instead to protect their dishonest customer.

BT Cellnet have made repeated claims to the media that they have solved the problem by introducing improved security, including a "registration" procedure, but the fact remains that it is still possible to top up a Cellnet pre-pay mobile phone, at least once a month, by simply keying in the numbers from a credit or debit card, without the authority of the card owner, without talking to an operator, without giving a name or address, without using a password or a PIN, and without even having had possession of the card. Since these numbers are often printed on till receipts, and are on plain view to anyone handling the card, I don't think that can truthfully be called "registration", do you?

This Index page provides regular updates to the appalling story, and links to correspondence from victims, and our media and other pages.

If you've seen an unexpected entry in your statement and think this fraud has happened to you, please e-mail us now at

A note for journalists: several articles and programmes in the printed and broadcast media have been prompted by, or benefited from, visits to this website. By all means use its content as a resource, but it would be a courtesy to advise us of your publication / broadcast and date. Thank you!

Links to our other Cellnet story pages Rev
Cellnet story Précis page (quick intro) 24/03/02
Recent correspondence page 25/06/02
Media page 05/06/01
Parliament page 02/09/01
Previous correspondence (Jan to May 2001) 21/08/01
Earliest correspondence (1999 and 2000) 21/08/01
Negative correspondence (updated) 07/01/02
Second Mobile News article based on our web site 05/12/00
Cellnet on BBC1's "Hard Cash" 29/05/00
Cellnet's Head of Security on BBC "Watchdog" 22/02/00
Letter to Cellnet's Head of Security, Mr John Cross 21/02/00
Main story page (very long) 07/02/00
Reporting BT Cellnet's Fraud to the Police 19/02/02
Telephone conversation with Cellnet's Head of Security, Mr John Cross 21/12/99
Second Daily Telegraph article based on our web site 18/12/99
Birmingham Sunday Mercury articles 13/08/99
Cellnet's e-mails to a fraud victim 19/12/99
Cellnet's letter to a fraud victim 17/08/99
BBC You and Yours exposure 08/07/99
Steve Pardoe on BBC Watchdog 01/07/99
Cellnet PR response
to Watchdog
Letter to APACS 29/07/99
Third Letter to the OFT 07/02/00
Second letter to the OFT 28/07/99
First letter to the Office of Fair Trading 09/07/99
Letter to Oftel 04/03/99
Archive of previous Campaign News and Commentary Archive
Campaign News

A new message from a victim whose Switch card was used to top up a Cellnet phone, showing that BT Cellnet are still making their credit card fraud scam available to their dishonest customers, despite protestations to the contrary. Read the latest victims' messages here. That's just a month after another e-mail from a victim whose bank account was hit four times in a few days.

A previous correspondent wrote :

"We can confirm that BT Cellnet now ask for information about the post code plus the security numbers on the strip at back of card".

However, as I wrote to a recent victim, it's possible that the fraudster had some way of knowing his address (such as during a mail order transaction). Retailers often use postcode look-up to save keying in a customer's full address, and it's not exactly rocket science for a dishonest operator to remember a couple of digits until you are out of the shop. With telephone ordering, the system is still wide open to abuse.

Return to
links and campaign news, or top of page

1 Cellnet fall back on a specious argument that their authorisation procedures have been agreed by the banks. This is disingenuous, because the authorisation they are referring to is that between Cellnet and their Merchant Acquirer [HSBC, I think], and is purely there to protect Cellnet against cards which are over their credit limit or on a hot list. Cellnet rely on this confusion over authorisation, and a public perception that credit card fraud is an inevitable fact of life, to fob off their victims ; and, even more reprehensibly, to fob off the media.

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