International 419-SMS

I don’t know if I get more spam than other people because my phone numbers are public, or if I’m just more of a touchy, grouchy git than other people and just react to every spam I get.

So, here is another SPAM-related post.

I just got an SMS from +256715316646 saying:

CONGRATULATION- You have won a TOYOTA LANDCRUISER VX worth $80,000 US DOLLARS.Contact the manager DR: STEPHEN through +254720043297 (JAPAN INT. MOTORS) THANKS.

Look closely. Firstly, it’s a 419-scam via SMS. I’ve never seen one of those before. 2nd, it’s from Uganda (a Uganda Telecom cellphone number). Third, it wants me to call someone in Kenya (a Safaricom cell number).

What on earth does one do to stop such things? Either this is run by a group with people on the ground in both countries, or they are using online bulk-SMS services. But International SMSs aren’t cheap. And I have no idea who to complain to about this. Let’s hope that this kind of spam doesn’t become common, because it’s virtually unstoppable if it does (like International e-mail spam).

Update: This page seems to have become a rant-board for people getting this spam. If it isn’t plainly obvious, here’s what to do: nothing. Don’t respond, don’t give them details, it’s a scam!.

Update 2: I won’t be replying to any of these comments any more - read the update above.

Update 3: Comments disabled, as this post is collecting more of the same comments. Don’t try and contact me personally if you have got a similar message, I’m not interested.

Spam Spam Spam Spam, Spam Spam Spam Spam, Lovely Spam, Wonderful Spam

This morning I got an unsolicited SMS spam “Home owners ? do u need money? R100,000 @ R752 pm! Reply YES and we?ll phone you”. I know that everybody gets things like this and they just shrug them off, but I have a rabid hatred of spammers.

With e-mail spam, there’s normally nothing you can do. The spammers are on the other side of the world, and they’ve used a botnet. But when I get something from South Africans, I act. We have the ECT act protecting us against spam. It’s not the most effective anti-spam legislation, but it’s better than nothing. I’ll send the IOZ Spam Message to the spammers, their ISP, the domain registrants etc etc. Usually I get a response. Usually they remove me from their lists. (If they don’t, their VP of marketing is going to have me harassing him over the phone in short order.) But of course they rarely mend their ways. Sometimes we end up in long e-mail arguments backwards and forwards, them saying “but I’m justified in spamming, because of foo”, me saying “no bloody way, because of bar” etc. It’s ineffectual and depressing, but at least I’m doing something to deter spammers and keep South Africa relatively clean.

But enough about e-mail. It’s time for some tips on dealing with SMS-spam. The SMS Spamming industry (euphemisms: direct marketing, wireless application service provider) is attempting to regulate itself rather than be regulated by government. They’ve formed WASPA and signed the sms code of practice. WASPA lets you file complaints against its members and fines them (although the fines are rather paltry).

I heard about them via Jeremy Thurgood’s recent spam-scapades. His spammers were charging R1 to opt-out. While the WASPA code of conduct allows a <=R1 fee, I agree with him that this is intolerable extortion.

In my case, my spammers had broken a few WASPA code of conduct rules:

  • 5.1.1.: They didn’t identify themselves in the SMS
  • 5.1.2.: There is no opt-out facility that I know of.
  • 5.1.4.: There is no advertised opt-out procedure.
  • 5.2.1.: I’m very careful about not allowing people to spam me, so I’m pretty sure they failed all the options. I’d like them to prove otherwise.

I looked up the originating number on the SMS Code website. It belongs to Celerity Systems. They are currently under a suspended sentence at WASPA, so my WASPA complaint should force them to fork out a fine. Lets hope for the best.

I’m against capital punishment, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a few spammers being hanged, drawn and quartered :-)

Phone SPAM again

Do you need cash in a hurry?”

At 15:14. I got another phone call from Plantinum. The first thing that I got from the woman was a contact number: 086 711 1660

I asked to speak to her boss, but she said he was out. Funny that. When I asked to leave a message, I was hung up on.

The phone call didn’t last for very long… :-(

Phone SPAM - Part 2

I’ve heard back from my contact at Vodacom. (cough smitty cough):

I have looked at this clients complained and have established the following: We have in the passed received similar complained from this company (Platinum) Firstly they are not a WASP service so they don’t need to comply as stated. They are a company that do sales and use random cell phone ranges prefixes 082 445 xxxx to SMS clients or call randomly. If the client wants to stop them from contacting him, he needs to call then and advise them accordingly.

Platinum 0219441600


Sounds like they are from Cape Town, (but north of the borewors curtain).

So, I phoned them… Naturally, I ended up at a voicemailbox (for extension 1649), so I asked to be called back. Lets see…

If I don’t hear from them, next stop is the Ombudsman for financial services.

Phone SPAM!

Americans may be used to telemarketing, but thanks to Telkom’s monopolistic pricing, it’s been simply uneconomical to do such things in South Africa. This has started to change… My friends don’t seem to get them, but over the last 2 months, I’ve received at least 6 automated phone calls.

They go something like this: Here’s a rough transcript the one I got at 20h46 today, from + (i.e. withheld caller ID):

  • Machine: Hello, do you need cash in a hurry? You’ve been accepted for platinum credit. To find out more, press 9.
  • Me: Arrgh! 9
  • Rings…
  • Salesman: <with a Xhosa accent> Hello…
  • Me: Hi. What can you tell me about this?
  • Salesman: You’ve been selected for ple-tin-ahm credit.
  • Me: Yes, and? who selected me? What is the company called?
  • Salesman: eh… the company is name is ple-tin-ahm
  • Me: Are you sure - is that the name of the company you work for?
  • Salesman: yes, ah, the company name is ple-tin-ahm
  • Me: yes? and? Why are you calling me, why do you think I want your services?
  • Salesman: The comp-pu-ta picked your number.
  • Me: What computer?
  • Salesman: The computa.
  • Me: Where did it get my number from?
  • Salesman: The computa picked it.

etc… round and round we go…

  • Me: Will you please tell your computer never to call me again?
  • Salesman: No, I can’t do that.
  • Me: Can I speak to your boss please?
  • Salesman: No, he’s out right now.
  • Me: Can I leave a message for him to call me?
  • Salesman: No, he’s out right now.


I started getting the feeling that the poor salesman was rigidly sticking to a script…

Eventually, I got hung up on. And I didn’t manage to find out a single bit of information about these bastards. Maybe I should have pretended to buy…

So I phone Vodacom Customer care 111. And after working my way through the IVR menus (no there isn’t an option for abuse anywhere, you just have to keep hitting 0), I sat on hold for half an hour. After 20 minutes, a callback feature was advertised, if I pressed # they’d call me back. I pressed #, repeatedly, but nothing happened… Maybe the bad reception was interfering with the DTMF tone…

While I was sitting on hold, listening to horrific music emanating from my speaker phone, and browsing the web, I came across the WASPA code of conduct. It seemed interesting.

My reasoning is that the telemarketers must be using cell phone networks, or some other commercial gateway, because they could hide their number. AFAIK you can’t hide your number when calling from a Telkom line. That means that Vodacom could actually do something about this. The code of conduct states:

5. Commercial communications

5.1. Sending of commercial communications

5.1.1. All commercial messages must contain a valid originating number and/or the name or identifier of the message originator.

5.1.2. Any message originator must have a facility to allow the recipient to remove his or herself from the message originator’s database, so as not to receive any further messages from that message originator.

5.1.3. Where feasible, persons receiving commercial messages should be able to remove themselves from the database of a message originator using no more than two words, one of which must be ‘STOP’.

5.1.4. Any mechanism for allowing a recipient to remove him or herself from a database must not cost more than one rand.

5.1.5. Upon request of the recipient, the message originator must, within a reasonable period of time, identify the source from which the recipient’s personal information was obtained.

5.1.6. Commercial communications may not be timed to be delivered between 20:00 and 06:00, unless explicitly agreed to by the recipient, or unless delivery during this period forms part of the up-front description of the service.

Hmm. Quite a few violations…

Syndicate content