Premium Phone Line Scams

Once upon a time we knew what fraud is. A scam, a con or a bit of skulduggery were easily recognised (after the event of course) and people tended to try and punish the perpetrators. Slippery Syd, a chap about whom I wrote a book, “the Master Con Man” used to spend huge amounts of time thinking up a scam, and putting it into practice, and then after having pulled off his “coup”  he usually ran away with his ill gotten gains, whether anyone was after him or not.

Today cons and scams are perpetrated by corporations. There are now many corporate cons. The name of the game is to spend huge amounts of time thinking up a scam, put it into practice and then…do nothing. Worse way some regulator will catch the corporate con and fine the corporation, best way nothing will happen. We have not seen Mr Plod the policeman feel the corporate collars of the banks who defrauded folk with PPI (Personal Protection Insurance). Not every contract of PPI was fraudulent, but many were, so the regulator merely fines the banks and a programme is established for the reimbursement of some of those who have been defrauded, and at the end of the accounting period the bank that has obtained money fraudulently gets to keep much of what it has ill gotten, and thinks up another corporate con – this time perhaps selling derivatives to students taking out a loan or to the corner shop wanting a small overdraft, and the process starts all over again.

There is an international context to modern corporate cons. A good example is of the Russian company, Connect Limited trading as SMSbill which sold an application for Android phones that enabled the phone owner to use his phone to access games. The application did provide access to games but when it was downloaded it caused the Android phone to send a text to a premium rate number, which then sent back an automatic reply costing the phone user £10. Apparently tucked away in the terms and conditions was a note that you would be charged about £5.

The regulator of this type of business is Phonepay Plus and it has fined the company £50,000 for what constitutes serious breaches of its code of conduct. I doubt if the company will pay the fine or refund the money scammed; we shall see. Apparently this application can be automatically downloaded (that is without the phone owner’s consent) when the Android user clicks on a Facebook link.

Now to my simple brain stopping this kind of con is quite easy. The end game of the scammer is to get money which means that there has to be a premium phone number somewhere along the line. Do we really need premium phone lines? Do they provide a valuable service? I doubt it. I am sure that all the services that premium phone lines provide – such as voting in wretched talentless shows – can be provided free on the internet. Premium phone lines are ultimately a scam, whether used by TV shows or con artists, and are simply a way of stealing a few pence from millions; it all adds up to quite a large figure, as the success of premium phone line operators shows.

So if we abolish premium phone lines scams of this nature become redundant, although we have to work internationally to abolish them across the world. In this day of technology it should not be rocket science to bar calls on a phone to international premium phone lines. Once we have done that, then scams involving premium phone lines will cease and the corporate con merchants will have to think of something new. We would not then need a premium phone line regulator.

One Response

  1. If the lessons of history teach us anything, it is that not many learns the lessons that history teaches us, a happy in the moment attitude is our achilles heel. The free bread and pre-med’s are currently being administered, and all of the bakers bar one have just been laid off, something tells me there are an awful lot of people going to be left with only water, containing another pre-med, enjoy the ride.

    Yes, I know what many might be thinking. The person who reads too much and uses his brain too little will fall into lazy habits of thinking, but it is the mark of an intuitive mind to be able to entertain any thought without accepting it.

    At the end of the day, what we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end of little concequence, the only concequence is what we do to others.

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