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Mobile Phone SPAM in Australia? Beware the free ringtone!

December 20th, 2005 · 6 Comments

jrands.jpgI’ve received 3 text messages in 24 hours from a company called “Wireless Information Network”. I can’t say for sure who the SPAM is coming from, but one person responsible appears to be this man: John Rands. Read on if you’re interested…


Countless kids are signing up to ringtone services that zap their money and leave their parents high and dry.

With phone companies preying on children, this is a story of ethics and the lengths some people will go to to make a dollar.

It all came about on Monday. A text message arrived on my phone…

When I looked at my phone, it said “Service Message”, so I assumed it was from OPTUS, my mobile service provider. It read:

Free Ringtone!

I selected “options” and was presented with three: “Retrieve”, “Details” and “Delete”.

I selected “details” and was given the following information:

Title: Free Ringtone! Address: http://195.74.152.84/wap/…

So I clicked “Retrieve” (what could happen?)… The phone connected to the web via GPRS, which costs money. I thought, hang on a minute, I thought this was a free ringtone, but I’m paying for this, aren’t I? Clearly, the ringtone was not free. How many kids are getting ripped off by this? How much money is Optus making from people being misled?

Here’s what came on my screen next:

Free Mobile Stuff!

Choose any Ringtone for Free!
Singles Chart:
1. Kate DeAraugo – Maybe Tonight
2. Black Eyed Peas – My Humps
3. Pussycat Dolls – Stickwitu
4. Krazy F**g – Jingle Bells
5. Madonna – Hung Up

[More Ringtones] [editor’s note: unfortunately this resource is no longer available online and we have therefore removed the link]

I chose Madonna, because she’s great. I waited a moment, and then was presented with another question:

Free Mobile Stuff!

Now select the type of your Free Ringtone:
[Polyphonic]
[Monophonic]
Note:
1) Check your phone for compatibility
2) Monophonic Ringtones for Nokia devices only

I chose Polyphonic, because my phone can play pholyphonic ringtones. The next screen was where this became obviously a scam…

Free Mobile Stuff!

Get your first Ringtone for Free and join our Club. Reply with “TONE” to the message you will receive shortly to download your Free Ringtone! Terms and Conditions below apply.

Terms and Conditions:
1. You must be 16+ and have the permission of the bill payer
2. Check your phone for compatibility
3. Customer Service: 1300799464
4. You agree to receive promotional messages in the future
5. You will receive two ringtones by WAP push every ten days charged at $$3.50 each
6. To unsubscribe text STOP to 19797197

So… the “free ringtone” isn’t free, but is conditional on me agreeing to pay $3.50 every ten days ($126 per year) AND agreeing to receive ‘promotional messages’. Worse still, to unsubscribe, I would have to text “STOP” to 19797197, which almost certainly costs money.

An SMS arrived on my phone:

Reply with the keyword “TONE” to receive your Free Ringtone! This message is free of charge.
Sender: 19197197

I called 1300799464.

GIRL WITH AUSTRALIAN ACCENT: “We will now connect you to the content provider directly. Please hold…”
(MUSIC)
GIRL WITH AUSTRALIAN ACCENT: “Your operator is now connected.”
GIRL WITH ENGLISH ACCENT: “SERVICE MENU If you wish to cancel your subscription or opt-out of receiving marketing messages, please press 1. For FAQ press 2. If you would like to leave a message and have a member of our customer care team call you back, please press 3.”

So I pressed 3 and left my name and number. It’s 7pm. The message indicated that the call would be returned within 24 hours “whenever possible”. So I won’t be holding my breath.

QUESTIONS:
– Who are these people?
– Where are they based? In Australia? The UK?
– Why don’t they say who they are?
– Why doesn’t OPTUS put a gateway up to prevent them preying on Optus customers?
– Optus presumably charges its customers the $3.50 and passes this charge on to the “service provider”. Does this mean Optus is breaking the law?
– How the hell did they get my number?
– Surely this is ‘misleading and deceptive conduct’ under Australia’s Trade Practices Act?
– Surely unsolicited text messages are illegal?

WHERE TO FROM HERE:

  • A reverse-IP lookup to trace the original “Service Message”
  • A Query to find who pays for the phone number 1300799464
  • A Query to find who makes money off the phone number 19797197

REVERSE IP Lookup

I performed a reverse IP lookup and found, to my surprise, that the company to whom the IP is assigned is listed:

inetnum: 195.74.152.0 – 195.74.152.255
netname: WIRELESSINFO-REDNET
descr: Wireless Information Network Ltd
country: GB
admin-c: JR1855-RIPE
tech-c: RH1089
rev-srv: dns1.red.net
rev-srv: dns2.red.net
status: ASSIGNED PA
mnt-by: REDNET-MNT
remarks: Abuse reports can be sent to JohnRands@WinPlc.Com
source: RIPE # Filtered
person: John Rands
address: Wireless Information Network Ltd
address: 4 Lancaster Court
address: Cressex Business Park
address: High Wycombe
address: Buckinghamshire
address: UK
address: HP12 3TD
phone: +44 1494444415
fax-no: +44 1494444422
e-mail: JohnRands@WinPlc.Com
nic-hdl: JR1855-RIPE
source: RIPE # Filtered
person: REDNET Hostmaster
address: REDNET Ltd
address: Lancaster Road
address: High Wycombe
address: Bucks, HP12 3YZ
address: UK
phone: +44 1494 513333
fax-no: +44 1494 443374
e-mail: hostmaster@red.net
nic-hdl: RH1089
source: RIPE # Filtered

So John’s email is JohnRands@WinPlc.Com and his office number is +44 149 444 4415.

More importantly, a little more investigation uncovered his mobile number, so if you’d like to send John a free ringtone, it’s +44 07831 678 679.

I called Optus today and spoke to a customer care representative. She told me that the company providing the “Mobile Premium Service” (ie. scam) is a company trading as dialogue.net. She also was able to pull up a list of terms and conditions that outlined the fees payable. When she looked up who the message came from, here’s what she read:

PROMOTION TITLE: WIN
DIALOGUE.net
PROMOTION COST: .25c
TERMINATION COST: $3.50

She said she’d email me that information, but the email is yet to arrive.

Apparently Optus has received many, many complaints about these services. So who is Dialogue.net?

I did a whois search for dialogue.net:

Registrant:
Dialogue Communication Ltd. The Workstation
15 Paternoster row
Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 2BX
United Kingdom

Registered through: GoDaddy.com (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: DIALOGUE.NET
Created on: 19-Aug-98
Expires on: 18-Aug-06
Last Updated on: 20-May-04

Administrative Contact:
Peersman, Guillaume abuse@dialogue.net.uk
Dialogue Communication Ltd.
The Workstation
15 Paternoster row
Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 2BX
United Kingdom
448700790100 Fax — 448700790200
Technical Contact:
Peersman, Guillaume abuse@dialogue.net.uk
Dialogue Communication Ltd.
The Workstation
15 Paternoster row
Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 2BX
United Kingdom
448700790100 Fax — 448700790200

Domain servers in listed order:
PRIMARY-DNS.DIALOGUE.NET.UK
SECONDARY-DNS.DIALOGUE.NET.UK

A few clicks and I arrived at Dialogue.co.uk’s contact page.

Dialogue Communications Pty. Ltd.
Princess Street Marina
Crystal Bay, Newport
Sydney
NSW 2106
Australia
How to find us

Phone: +61 2 9979 6377
Fax: +61 2 9979 6088

So now I’m going to call “dialogue”…

WOAH: Newsflash: “Donna” just returned the message I left last night. I asked her how they got my number, and she said that it was,

“Probably someone typed the wrong number into our website”.

Three times in a row? I asked her how much it would cost to get the “Free Ringtone!” She said it would cost:

Texting “TONE” to 19797197 will cost the standard SMS rate (22c)
Downloading the tone will be charged at the GPRS rate from Optus (don’t know how much?)
Texting “STOP” to 19797197 will cost the standard SMS rate (22c)

So the “Free Ringtone!” costs more than 44c. That’s if what Donna told me is true.

See the thing is, that Optus indicated that unsubscribing from the service would cost $3.50. So who is right?

There is only one way to find out. I SMSed “TONE” To the number provided.

Ringtone Club

Welcome to our club and thanks fo your registration. Please select the following link to download your Free Ringtone:

[Free Ringtone]

> Do you want to download a Free Picture as well?

[Free Picture]

> Do you know anybody else who wants Free Mobile Stuff?

[Tell a Friend]

Tags: · ,

Category: Corporate craziness


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