BENTWATERS, England — The telephone company is cracking down on U.S. Air Force personnel who have been using nickels instead of British 20-pence coins to make cheap calls home, an Air Force spokesman said Friday.
A 20-pence coin is worth 37 cents, so every nickel used for a call to the United States saves 32 cents. Using the nickel, a transatlantic call that should cost about $24 would only cost $3.
British Telecom, the telephone company, estimates the scam has cost it about $52,000 in the past several months.
Two airmen at the U.S. air base in Bentwaters in eastern England have been charged with cheating on long-distance calls, and the Air Force is helping the telephone company end the swindle.
"We have warned everyone here that British Telecom is looking out for people making fraudulent use of the phones," said Capt. John Boyle, a spokesman at Bentwaters.