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Puliyamkot holds up the 284-page bill he received last week

Restaurant runs up $47,555 phone bill in 4 days

Manama, March 3, 2014

A restaurant manager in Bahrain got the shock of his life when he was told he had run up a phone bill of more than BD18,000 ($46,608) in just four days.

Sajid Puliyamkot, 38, from India, says he only learned about the bill when he tried to leave Bahrain with his family on a pilgrimage to Makkah, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

His tour operator told him he was banned from leaving the country and a case had been filed against him in Bahrain's High Civil Court.

Menatelecom applied for the travel ban against Puliyamkot, claiming that he owed BD18,366 for calls made between November 2 and 6 last year.

Puliyamkot said he only applied for the connection, which had a BD12 monthly line rental charge, in October and suspects it was "hacked" and used to make thousands of long-distance calls without his knowledge.

His phone bill, which is 284 pages long and has been seen by the GDN, shows that thousands of calls were made simultaneously to countries including Bosnia, Iran, South Africa, Somalia, Spain, Angola, Benin, Gabon and Chile.

The case has now been taken up by the Indian Embassy and the Indian Community Relief Fund (ICRF), which have appointed a lawyer on his behalf.

"We are aware of this case and have asked a lawyer to confirm everything and follow it up," said an embassy spokesman.

"He was also asked to speak to Menatelecom and get further details on how this amount was transferred to Puliyamkot's name.

"Our Ambassador Dr Mohan Kumar is also on top of it and closely following the case."

The ICRF member who brought the case to the embassy, Chemban Jalal, said Puliyamkot was planning to take his visiting wife and five-year-old son on an Umrah pilgrimage when he got the news, having already paid a BD200 advance for the trip.

Puliyamkot says he last paid his bill on November 2, but the thousands of international calls made from his number are dated from November 2 to November 6 - after which point his line appears to have been disconnected.

"He called the company to check, but they said he needs to pay the amount otherwise he won't be able to travel out of Bahrain," said Jalal.

Puliyamkot, who is general manager of Seeshal Restaurant and Cafe, Jid Ali, said he had been unable to sleep since he learned about the massive bill.

"I was happy that my family came from India and I was going to take them for Umrah," he said.

"But now I am spending sleepless nights because of this tension.

"Someone hacked my account and used it to call different countries. I need help to get out of this problem. Why should I pay for something I didn't even use?"

He said Menatelecom claimed to have sent him copies of the bill, but he denied ever receiving anything.

Menatelecom officials were unavailable for comment yesterday. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | restaurant | phone | bill |

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