Posts Tagged ‘theft’

Mobile content fraud – part 2

I just called AT&T about these charges.  He refunded the $10.67 I was charged, and cancelled the subscription.

He told me that the charge was added by Verisign – confirming my googled knowledge that Jamster is at least partially owned by Verisign.  So… yet another reason to dislike Verisign.

He also added a purchase control thingy to AT&T’s MediaNET to prevent anyone from charging my phone line again without my explicit approval.

I asked why that wasn’t the default – they should automatically verify that you want these kinds of things.  His answer?  “By law we have to allow people to buy things on their phone.”

Guess what?  Verification does not in any way negate the ability to buy things on one’s phone. It was an idiotic excuse, but I didn’t want to yell at him.  After all, there wasn’t anything this particular customer service agent could do about it.

Let me be clear, though: enabling verification by default would resolve the most glaring problems with the system, and if they do that I’ll be satisfied.

So anyway I asked who I can talk to about getting AT&T to stop this sort of thing from happening on a scale larger than “we’ll refund things for whoever happens to notice and complain”.  At first he said “we have no department for that”, but after I pressed him on the issue (there must be someone I could talk to) he directed me to the “Contact Us” section of AT&T Wireless’ website.

So off I go:



Looks like my next course of action is to track down some fraud department number on my own, or failing that, find a VP’s (or CEO’s) phone number and leave a message for them.

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Mobile content company cell phone scams

Gather round, it’s story time!

Back in August 2008 I upgraded my AT&T plan from a single line to a five-line family plan.  On my second bill (dated Oct 5, 2008), one of the lines showed a charge like this:

“Flycell”… Mblox… $10.66

I called up my sister-in-law and asked her whether she had solicited the purchase.  I didn’t care if she did, but if she had I wanted her to pay for it.  Turns out she hadn’t.

So, I called up AT&T and got them to reverse the charge.  They said they would, and that they had unsubscribed the line from that merchant’s service.

Sounds simple, right?  Well, look at the next bill, dated Nov 5, 2008:

“Flycell”… Mblox… -$10.66 (refund)

“Flycell”… Mblox… $10.66

“Thumbplay”… OpenMarket… $10.66

Well, this isn’t looking good.  They obviously didn’t cancel the subscription the first month, because it was charged again, and now there’s a *second* subscription!  What’s worse, the contact phone number for Mblox and OpenMarket are exactly the same, so it’s the same company.

So I called AT&T again, and they told me they’d refund it and it’d all be taken care of.

Here’s the next bill, dated Dec 5, 2008:

“Thumbplay”… OpenMarket… -$10.66 (refund)

“Thumbplay”… OpenMarket… -$10.66 (refund)

“Thumbplay”… OpenMarket… $10.66

Hmm.  Two refunds for Thumbplay and now two charges for Thumbplay.  Unfortunately at the time I didn’t realize that I never got the refund for the second Flycell charge.

Well, it appeared to have sorted itself out, and sure enough the Jan 5, 2009 bill had no charges from either company.

… and now we get to Jan 5, 2010, this time on my line:

“XXL: Mobile content”… Jamster… $10.67


Note that neither of us ever solicited these subscriptions, neither of us ever gave out our numbers to those “get a free ringtone” websites, and neither of us have any affiliation with any of these companies in any way.

It is, quite simply, blatant theft.  Jamster and friends throw charges at people’s lines (using their established business relationship with various mobile carriers) and just hope they won’t notice.  Some quick googling (“jamster scam” and “mblox scam” both turn up some dirt) shows that this is not uncommon.  Yes, a lot of the people who fall victim to this scam have signed up for Jamster’s “free” ringtones; but a lot of them have not, and that’s where I fall.

The problem here is that AT&T does absolutely no verification to see whether the customer actually did subscribe to these things – for some unfathomable reason, they just trust Jamster.

Well, I’m going to call AT&T tomorrow morning and get them to rectify the situation yet again.  I’m also going to chase this up the org chart as high as I can to get something done about it.

So, have any of you experienced anything similar?

Edit: here’s part two.

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Stop that thief!

It is not amusing when people steal my drinks from the fridge.

That is all.

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