BEWARE: Operator run charge-to-bill SCAM affecting 3G/4G browsing on Friday nights

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Hi, I am new to this forum and have just registered to be able to say thank you for the information given and share my experience.
Firstly, I think this is the third time I have suffered from this scam over about three years. The first time, I let a Belarussian child who was staying with us use my phone to play a game whilst waiting for a meal to be prepared. They may or may not have clicked on something by mistake as their English was very poor but this ended up with a Payforit subscription which I was unaware of and took a lot of effort to resolve.
I have also provided a mobile phone (on the Three network) to a refugee for her use and it has a zero credit limit on the account to ensure no extra charges can be incurred (or so you would hope!!!). I think she fell foul of this type of scam about a year ago and again last Friday night (Friday night as predicted above). Yes it was Friday night, Tapvids and the Three network. She sent me a message to say she had received a text (like those described above) and that she had not clicked on anything . I rang her and she was very upset about it, she is a very honest and conscientious person and has suffered a lot and this is not needed. I suggested texting Stop to the number but this came up with a message stating there would be a charge to send this so she didn't. I tried to ring the landline number but of course this advised customer services is closed until Monday.

Yesterday, Monday, I checked the Phonepayplus website which advised to contact the company first to resolve it. I tried to phone Tapvids (or txtnation or whoever they are as the phone message does not give a name). I was waiting to speak to someone for 7 to 8 minutes whilst messages kept saying 'that they know my time is valuable, thank you for holding and someone would be with me as soon as possible. When they did eventually answer they cut the call on me after just a few seconds.

I rang Three and advised that I have been a victim of this scam. They confirmed a charge of £4,50 added to my account for Friday night and insisted that we must have opted to subscribe to this service. I knew this was not the case and had already read some of the posts above so understood exactly what had happened. The person said he understood there were some scams and that they took several calls every day about these charges. He asked if we had texted Stop to the number but confirmed there would be a 10p charge for doing so. I advised this is just rubbing salt into the wound. He tried to ring them himself so we could have a 3 way conversation. We were on hold for 5 minutes or so with no answer but I kept telling him what a disgrace it is that the network providers are facilitating this crime by passing on the charges. He said he would not waste any more of my time and would ring and ensure the charges were stopped and that he would add a £5 credit to my account to cover the charge on Friday.

I got a call later yesterday afternoon from Three to see if I was happy with the way my call had been dealt with. I advised that I was happy that the charges would be cancelled etc but I am very unhappy that these scammers are being facilitated by the network providers to carry out these crimes as there is no way that I would pay them directly. Whilst these scams are allowed to happen and you cannot apply any bar on these charges as standard then Three (and the others) are aiding and abetting this criminal activity. Three have a campaign at present which says 'Make it Right'. They are meant to resolve issues for the customer, well Three, how are you doing at this one, very poorly I believe.

Today I rang Phonepayplus (the alleged regulator) who again tried to insist that we must have clicked to accept this subscription. I told her of how many others I have read about on the internet who have suffered the same fate and she said you cannot believe what you read on Google!!! They appear to be another toothless regulator who hardly want to listen to or believe what the complainants are saying. I did look through some of the Tribunal adjudications shown on their website which shows that many of these companies have already been found guilty of forcing subscriptions without the users consent/knowledge, spurious charges and the failure to cease charges even when people have texted Stop. Why therefore do they not want to believe us when we tell them that is what has happened to us.

The results of the tribunals show that where fines have been levied the amount of the fine is considerably less than the amount of the revenue they believe has been gained (if I am reading it correctly). For instance where they believe the likley revenue to have been in a band of £500,000 to £1,000,000 they levy a fine of £150,000. Well that is a real deterrent I think not. The figures should be the other way around.Mind you there was a remark that said that anyone who had been unfairly charged and requested a refund must be given one. What percentage of those poor people will have received a refund (I suspect somewhere between very few and nil).

I heard on the news recently that fraud is now the largest crime that people suffer in the UK and that the government wanted to try and reduce this. Well, unfortunately, it appears to be just lip service as crime like this would take very little to resolve. I assume that Three and the other network providers are probably receiving something like a third of this revenue. Little wonder then that they refuse to even discuss this as mentioned in the news article I found and pasted below.

http://www.itv.com/news/2016-05-10/...-unwanted-messages-heres-what-to-do-about-it/

The fraudsters appear to be making millions but so are the network operators who are aiding and abetting this crime. However, whilst watching Panorama about BHS and how Sir Philip Green has been allowed to steal billions from the firm and the UK and he is still allowed to get away with it what hope is there for such trivial matters as this.
 

Becky

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Another welcome from me! Sorry to hear you've been affected by this too :(
 

Captain Jack Sparrow

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Thanks for letting us know that you too have been affected.
Little wonder then that they refuse to even discuss this as mentioned in the news article I found and pasted below.

http://www.itv.com/news/2016-05-10/...-unwanted-messages-heres-what-to-do-about-it/
You need to know that the article you mentioned is referring to a different kind of scam, which sends high volumes of reverse-charged premium rate SMS messages to random phone numbers. If it lands on a live number, a charge will be made and the fraudsters will continue sending them to those numbers. If you have barred premium rate SMS services on your account, it will prevent this particular type of scam from charging you.

Although that's bad enough, the scam mentioned in this topic does not use premium rate SMS messages, but uses PayforIT instead, which is billed through your mobile data connection's IP address. Even if you have barred premium rate SMS services on your account, it won't stop PayforIT charging you, because it doesn't use premium rate SMS messages to make charges. Messages you receive from PayforIT are not premium rate SMS messages, they are notification only messages.

Here is an article which is specific to this scam:
You'll LITERALLY PAY for getting tricked into visiting these scam sites (external link, The Register)

Unfortunately, it appears that you cannot prevent PayforIT from working, unless you pipe your mobile data connection through a VPN service, as I have proven earlier in this topic. Although this is an extreme measure, it is the only sure-fire way to prevent the PayforIT service from charging you. Consider yourself lucky that Three cancelled the charge, but you still need to ensure that you get the weekly subscription cancelled too!

Also, be more forceful with PhonepayPlus. They also initially kept telling me that, "I had clicked on something", so insist that you want to raise a complaint about this matter, I don't feel like enough people are complaining about this, too many people are taking it lying down.

- Capt. Jack Sparrow.
 
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Than you for your reply Capt. Jack. I appreciate your comments about the article I had listed being about a different type of scam. I had opened several articles I had Googled and then forgot the exact content of each. I think the most relevant part of the article I referred to was that the operators would not say if they were profiting from these crimes - EE and Three refused to comment.

I do not believe my refugee friend who I have provided this phone for can utilise a VPN to avoid these scams. She does not have a home phone line to put broadband on. She has unlimited data on the phone contract and can tether her laptop via this. She had installed Mcafee anti virus but this did not help (the customer service agent at Three said installing an anti-virus software would stop it).

You say to be more forceful with PhonepayPlus but despite our limited experience and knowledge it is evident that this is a scam. After these happening for years they should be experts on the issue and not rejecting complaints made stating 'you must have clicked to accept'. I believe they are like the Press Complaints Commission, a self regulating body that sort of pretends to police the industry and just does enough to stop government setting up a real regulating body. Their attitude is apathetic, they said they would email something to complete about it which they have not done and they do not appear at all concerned.

I rang and emailed the Guardian yesterday about this in the hope of raising more publicity but again I suspect the chances of getting an article written looks slim. I certainly haven't taken it lying down as I am sure you will agree. What is needed is probably for some family members of the government to suffer from these scams and then maybe they would show more interest.
 

Captain Jack Sparrow

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AFTER NEARLY 3 MONTHS, THE SAGA FINALLY CONCLUDES...

I persevered. Oh yeah, I was very persistent, I gave them hell.
Today, I woke up to this email:

IMG_20161026_121503.png

So I hopped onto PayPal to check whether that email was legitimate...

txtNation.fw.png

SUCCESS! txtNation have finally coughed up the money!

Guys keep going at them, it appears that the TAPVIDS service has now been closed down, so this is your best chance to get your money refunded from txtNation. But beware, because it has been brought to my attetion that a new, identical scam by txtNation called "Viral Flick" is now operating on the 64055 shortcode.

- Capt. Jack Sparrow.
 
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