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Psst! Incoming SMS Ads Messages May Burn A Hole In Your Pockets!

June 8th, 2008 by Wai Loong (Add Your Comment)
SMS message received on a Motorola RAZR wireless handset.

Image via Wikipedia

Lately, I’ve heard of some very disturbing news that some jokers got slapped with some very hefty mobile/cell phone bills here in Singapore.

Just last year, one particular joker was slapped with $6,000 cell phone bills for watching movies and doing who knows what on his mobile phone. The local Telco finally resolved the payment with him, along with a few other similar and unfortunate customers. Below is an extract from a local article:

A SingTel spokesman said: ‘We have contacted Mr Zhou to explain to him the charging scheme of SingTel’s Broadband on Mobile service. We have since resolved his matter.’

He declined to say how, but added that the account user was happy with the resolution. He said that there have been a ‘small handful’ of customers who had similar complaints to Mr Zhou.

-Sources: AsiaOne

With the aggressive launch of MediaCorp’s future platform to deliver videos on the go, more folks will be slapped hard unknowingly by the hefty broadband charges.

Before that happens, I forsee another group of folks who may be mildly slapped by an extra bucks or so in the coming months…

Here are the proofs:

Just this afternoon, I caught sight of some very disturbing advertisements on Facebook, a very popular social networking portal.

The advertisement said something like: “Win an MacBook AIR now“.

Obviously, I’ve already turned numb to seeing such enticing advertisements, but to win a MacBook AIR?

“That’s something interesting!”, I mumbled.

A click brought me to a page to fill in my name and mobile number.

Being a seasoned scam scanner myself, the word “Mobile Number” immediately flagged a red warning…

“This is ridiculous! Why do I have to fill in my cell number?”

My little detective nature quickly kicked in. In the next few seconds, I was busy digging for clues on how this possible SCAM may turn out. I back-spaced to the Facebook SuperWall application (where the advertisement originally brought me from) but the Ad was gone. Refreshing the page several times did not rotate in the clicked Ad any more.

Next, I got back to the advertisement’s landing page and start exploring the site’s URI. You’ll be amazed how much interesting information you can gather while traversing around a site’s URI.

What I found, in the next minute, was information how the site makes money and putting their terms and conditions in very fine print on their landing page. Here is a partial quote of what was listed as conditions into accepting their terms to do business with:

This is an ongoing subscription service until user quits. This service operates according to the Singapore code of practice for SMS services. By sending an SMS to 72233, you acknowledge that you have read and understood the ‘Terms & Conditions’ and agree to be bound by these ‘Terms & Conditions’ | To stop service? Text STOP to 72233. Subscription: Maximum 10 SMS questions per month, S$4 per question. Competition ends 31-12-’08 | Age: 18+ only – obtain bill payer’s permission | Helpdesk: 6571 3999 | Technical Service Provider: Sybase 365 Pte Ltd.

-Sources: wixawin Singapore

The contact information quickly reveals as stated, that under no circumstances that spam messages (and hence you get charged) will be sent by their service, unless the buyer confirms to their subscriptions messages to start receiving their subsequent trivia service questions.

The only way to subscribe to our service is by sending in a confirmation text message to 72233. After you have confirmed your subscription, the service will be activated.

-Sources: wixawin Singapore

I breathed a sign of relief after I’ve read the above lines.

As stated fortunately, this service has a simple protection mechanism against fraud (but still not foolproofed as with the case of GSM man-in-the-middle attack). The current contest opt-in mechanism is very similar to how a double opt-in auto-responder works. Unfortunately, such gimmicks are going to lure a large bunch of greedy suckers (pardon my putt) to win BIG prizes… and these are they VERY type of targets that such marketers are hot after!

Well, I can’t blame them anyway. I myself is a culprit for clicking on that very enticing advertisement. Fortunately, I was sharp enough to prevent a big hole to burn into my cell pone bill!

That being said, not many folks can resist walking away from having even the slightlest chance to win irresistible gadgets like Apple Mac Pac, iPhone, MacBook AIR. Who wouldn’t? Don’t kid yourself if you say no to the contest… of course I don’t mean you – if you’re such an exception!

Anyway, here’s the deal if you’re so interested to gamble:

Products & Prizes:
Apple Mac Pac
MacBook AIR

These are our Text & Win services:
Quiz: 5 questions to qualify for free final
These are our content services:
Subscription: 3 content messages per week
Subscription: Maximum 10 charged trivia questions per month for new prizes
Costs: S$4 per question

-Sources: wixawin Singapore

Listen, I’m not advertising for this service here. Nor am I affiliated to this service in any way. I just want to flag this as a potential marketing ideas for some of you aspiring entrepreneurs here, or simply help you burn a monthly hole in your pockets should you wish to engage your lust to win those irresistible cool gadgets here.

As with all my previous sign-offs, Stay hungry, Stay foolish, and live a life with passion!

Have a great week ahead and keep the comments rolling in!

Zemanta Pixie

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About Insights, Inspirations, Tranquility, Peace and Harmony

Ng Wai Loong

Wai Loong is an electronics engineer by profession. He currently resides in Singapore, a thriving hub at the heart of South-East Asia. When he is not so stress out on the computers or laboratory, he enjoys value reading, jogging at his own pace and blogging in his spare time. Other times, he likes to catch up with some close friends over a cup of latte or teh tarik. As a gift from this friend, you are invited to interact freely with him on his personal blog.

PS: May the person reading this blog transforms his/her businesses, finances, relationships and life for ALL to WIN!