MyBroadband recently reported on a new South African cellphone scam which secretly subscribed people to a R5-a-day service.
All a user needed to do to be subscribed to the service was to visit a website and click on a link. No indication was given they would be subscribed to the service.
The service involved adult content.
With this scam, the cellphone number of the user was harvested without their knowledge or consent.
WASPA adjudicators said this was an example of a cynical and criminal attempt to make money at the expense of the consumer, and that there was a high likelihood of considerable harm to the public.
The service provider facilitating the scam had its WASPA membership suspended until all of its services were submitted for review and testing.

Service provider back in business

The Sunday Times has reported that the suspension of the scam-linked service provider, Infobip, has been lifted.
Infobip responded to the WASPA ruling, saying it has been incorrectly identified as the target of the complaints and it is addressing the issue with the regulator.
The action taken by WASPA, said Infobip, relates to a service operated by a third party – with Infobip “merely an intermediary” in the supply chain.
The third-party services behind the scam, Ultra Joy and Xoxo Charm, have been suspended by the cellular operators.

No detail from anyone about the scam

Neither the cellular operators nor WASPA wanted to provide insight into the scam, like how it was possible for companies to bypass their double opt-in systems.
When asked for details about the scam, WASPA said “specific details relating to the Emergency Panel complaint cannot be shared at this stage as the content thereof still forms part of an ongoing investigation”.
Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C were also vague in their responses, and did not say how many customers were affected by the scam.
Vodacom said it has “conducted an investigation into the matter to ascertain how this fraudulent activity took place, and have taken measures to ensure it does not happen in future”.
MTN said it was in the process of remedying its systems to circumvent possible fraudulent mechanisms in future.
Cell C said it was aware of the problem, but had not received complaints from its customers.
Telkom customers were not affected by this scam.