All frauds, like the wall daubed with untempered mortar … always tend to the decay of what they are devised to support. – Richard Whately
I know times are hard and if you don’t have a huge marketing budget and name recognition then it can be almost impossible to have anyone visit your website, let alone subscribe to services you intend to bill for. It is no wonder start-ups are getting ever more creative and fraudulent in trying to reel in unsuspecting users of mobile phones in order that they can silently siphon their airtime through premium rate numbers.
One such company promises free sms for a daily fee (Oh I know the irony of offering free sms when the ubiquitous gmail already does) and are using guerilla marketing tactics and outright arm twisting to achieve their ends. This is how they do it: You receive a text message on your mobile having a link from a premium number 5772, the message goes: “You’ve been sent a photo. Click to open:http://ems.cx/wetc “. If you fall for the bait and click on the link it takes you to an obscure and bland website that sends you another text with another link for you to click on. Well you don’t get to see any photo anybody sent you because in reality the links are nothing but shortened URLs, the first link has your phone number appended at the end and leads to you unwittingly signing up to a website, the second link seems to be a confirmation of you joining the said providers list of subscribers, all this is of course done without you realizing it.
What happens next is that you start to receive useless messages from a premium number 5881 asking you to visit their website, and the icing on the cake is that each of this messages sent to you daily will subtract Sh 25 from your credit. I have visited the website on desktop and it might be legit, but the fact they have to trick people into joining them is very upsetting and points to people who might be nothing more than a bunch of shysters.
Unsubscribing using one’s phone doesn’t seem to work, and indeed you have to “SMS stop to 5892” which is yet another premium number. Unsubscribing on their webpage doesn’t stop the texts coming in and the billing continuing. Basically these folk make it easy for you to get inadvertently subscribed to their billed text services and then make it damn near impossible to leave when you realize the scam. Calls to their Help lines 0719786143/ 0712212600/ 0734488668 go unanswered, and if you persist on redialing their phones are simply switched off. I have had to contact Safaricom to ask them to deactivate this service and they’ve told me the people behind this are called “Mobile Zone Wireless”