sms scams – what can be done?
First things first… If you receive a spam SMS you should forward the message to the Australian Media and Communications Authority Spam SMS service on 0429 999 888. I recommend doing it a few times. This is the proper way to deal with this issue.
Now… for those of you who are the “direct action” type… Here’s a few things I’ve noticed about the recent SMS scam circulating Australia (and I’ve no doubt the world)…
- The domain hosting the initial spam SMS link has always been recently registered – The Macbook Air SMS spam domain used today in Australia was bkadn.com which was registered on the 22 May 2012.
- The domains are registered with privacy enabled – bkadn.com was protected by protecteddomainservices.com.
- The domain is difficult to link to the legitimate content provider with whom a victim ends up signing up – In todays case the content provider was Yamoja aka Txt-services.com aka TMG.
- The Terms & Conditions used by the Yamoja appear legally discouraging enough to dissuade telcos from pursuing a refund.
- Txt-services.com, which is either the same as or a service provider to Yamoja, reference two service desk numbers in the Yamoja signup page Terms & Conditions – 1800057154 and 1300650521 – and a service email address of firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, based on what we can find out, a few reasonably strong presumptions can be made…
- The financial motive for the SMS spam campaign is an affiliate payment or other kickback from Yamoja to the spammer – otherwise there would be no spam.
- Whoever has this SMS spam campaign set up WOULD KNOW that it’s illegal – otherwise it’s less likely they’d use a nonsensical domain name registered 2 weeks ago with privacy protection…
- Yamoja would DEFINITELY KNOW that it’s illegal but, I assume, still pay the spammer – otherwise the spam would stop.
- Despite the implications of this hypothesis, Yamoja have taken efforts to run a legally defensible business – they can’t be proven as the ones directly responsible for running the campaign and have T&C’s set up to protect their take.
- If Txt-services.com is a service provider to Yamoja then they PROBABLY KNOW that all of this dodgy-ness is going… OR DO THEY?
So how do we either…
- Get Txt-services.com’s attention that illegal, intrusive and predatory spamming is going on or
- Reduce the profitability of the scam to the point where they are forced to reconsider if paying dodgy affiliates is a good idea…?
- Their support number, 1800057154, is a toll-free number. This means that THEY PAY FOR THE CALL. If it’s long distance THEY PAY A BIT MORE. Their other support number, 1300650521, is partial pay… i.e. THEY PAY FOR SOME OF THE CALL.
- Call either of the two numbers between 9 and 5 AEST and ask for an operator. Complain about the spam you and you friends have been receiving. Tell them their little SMS scam is all over the Internet. Keep the operator on the line for as long as possible. The goal is to stretch out the call as long as possible and INCREASE THE COST of being the named support channel for this scam.
- When the call ends pick up the phone and call again.
- Lather rinse repeat.
- They make $10 a month off every person scammed by these SMS messages… I reckon it would not be too hard to at least make them pay some attention.