My Orange bill has this entry dated 21/05/07 :-
Place called: Multimedia Service Recd
Call class: text
Cost: £1.280 (ex VAT, = £1.50 inc VAT)
78181 isn't listed on Grumbletext, but ICSTIS shows 78181 as:
Tanla Mobile Ltd
0871 240 3500
The handset which was billed is used for remote server access. It's in a
locked room to which only I have access. The handset security options
are set up so that it can only receive incoming data calls with a
specific CLI. So it could not have sent a text message to 78181 (as it
cannot make outgoing calls or send outgoing texts).
Over the last few months, the handset has received half a dozen
unsolicited SMS messages, one of which was from 78181:
Shop at major retailers at www.prizedonkey.com and earn cashback,
refer friends and earn more. Passcode .[(that field is blank)]. For
help call 0871 310 8340. 10p per Min.
Looking at www.prizedonkey.com, they claim to be:
Fantastic 4 Mobile Limited
PO box 892
But WHOIS shows the following (which of course may be fictitious, or may
relate to an entirely innocent third party):
rasim ozrasim (PRIZEDONKEY-COM-DOM)
cream bar grill
56 belediye otopark
kyrenia, CY ky1
rasim2001 [AT] hotmail.com
while the web server appears to be hosted by Everyone's Internet in Texas.
www.prizedonkey.com has a form where the punter enters a mobile number
to receive a passcode. Supposedly, you are not billed the £1.50 unless
you text the passcode back to them. They then ask that you "Register
with your accurate contact info (such as email & postal address) if
requested so we know where to send your redeemed voucher(s)". Yeah. Right.
Shouldn't the Orange billing system check that I'd sent a text to 78181
before passing on the charge of £1.50? Otherwise, how are massive SMS
frauds to be avoided? The fee is low enough that disputing it is likely
to cost me more than it would recover, so it seems like the perfect
crime (although it's always possible that it's a genuine mistake on this
Just how widespread is SMS fraud in the UK? It sounds like a license to
Thanks for any pointers.
It is phenomenally widespread; Orange, for whatever reason, appear to be
quite complicit in these scams and unless you escalate a complaint to their
Customer Services Director at a very early stage then you'll get nowhere.
Not that it's much use now, but:
a) register the number with the TPS (but UK only)
b) if Orange can't do it, move to a telco that will allow you to block
incoming premium SMS (T-Mobile seem to have this functionality)
Yes - did that ages ago - but the spammers don't seem to respect it.
> b) if Orange can't do it, move to a telco that will allow you to block
> incoming premium SMS (T-Mobile seem to have this functionality)
Just spoke to a woman at Orange Customer Services, who refunded the
charge after some discussion. However, it was the potential for far
larger losses that concerned me. She was unable to place a bar on my
account to block premium rate text services. She did place a bar on
premium rate calls, but she warned me that this would not stop premium
She suggested that I text STOP ALL to the short code number on the bill.
I replied that since they'd already charged me £1.50 for one
unsolicited text, I didn't trust them to respect a STOP ALL message: if
they really were offshore fraudsters, then a STOP ALL message would
merely confirm that my number was live, possibly resulting in a flood of
The handset is unlocked, so I will seriously consider moving to
T-Mobile. It will be a shame to close my Orange OVP Virgin account
though, as it's a tariff you can't get any more. I might try writing to
the Orange Customer Services Director first - though I don't know which
office such correspondence should go to.
The paddington office would be the best one to go for, of all the
offices in the UK that's where the big boys and girls spend most of
their time when not travelling.
email them at
That will get straight to the right people.
Don't take it lying down - make a fuss like I did with O2.
I queried a £1.50 charge on my bill with customer services. They said
I should text STOP back. I said NO WAY am I paying to stop something
I didn't request. I told them to check my records for proof that I'd
done anything to request a premium rate text, and added that without
that proof, they were complicit in fraud.
I got a refund immediately, and oddly enough have not received the
like ever since.
(Reply via NG please)
I'll be looking for an assurance that it *is* possible to disable all
premium text services, otherwise I'll be off elsewhere. I'll post back
here if I get any useful response back.
Thanks for the info, everyone...
That's interesting, I made a fuss with o2 and they still refused to
refund my money, even though I went up three levels in management (or
at least that's who they said they were putting me through to, could
have been anyone really). Apparently someone could have accessed my
handset or entered the wrong number on the website so it is entirely
my fault. So I've voted with my feet and switched to Orange. I'd
consider kicking up more of a fuss but for £1.50 it's not worth it --
which is annoying because the service providers are probably making a
tidy sum of money from this.
Of course, all this could be prevented by requiring all subscription
services to send a confirmation message directly to the number, which
*must* be replied to before they can charge you for the service. That
way the phone companies would have proof that you (or at least someone
with access to your handset) had signed up and therefore it would be
your liability - if not then it's obviously fraud and something could
be done about it.
Perhaps o2 have trained their staff to 'just say no, regardless' to
refunds after you got yours? :)
I found this thread in google having also received spam from 78181
I'm with t-mobile and they told me all they can do is to give me the
offender's number and I must deal with them. They sounded rather fed
up of hearing about this particular company.
The number I was given was a different 0871 number; however Tanla
Mobile advertise 020 7494 5600 on their website, which is what I used
(so it is included in my free call allowance).
I spoke to a man called Patrick at Tamla's "helpdesk" who spoke with
such a strong asian accent that I had to ask him to repeat things. I
asked him why I was getting this spam and that I'd like them to
demonstrate where and how I signed up (being confident that I hadn't)
and that otherwise I would make a DPA request to find out what details
they held on me and for what purpose.
Patrick merely repeated "we will remove you from database, someone
investigate and call you" several times in response to everything I
said. He seemed to have a parrot fashion answer rather than to be
listening to what I said.
I asked how soon someone will call me; I was told "2-3 working days".
I said "Don't call me before 10am any day" and I was told that he
couldn't say that. I said "I am asking that you DO say that. I am
asking that you make a note. I am disabled and I am in pain and I do
not wish to be woken up by a phonecall before 10am any day". He said
that if they don't get me they will leave a message. I explained that
I do not leave my phone on silent, so in an emergency it will wake me,
but I do not expect them to cause my phone to sound before 10am as I
will be asleep. Patrick said that the call back would be in business
hours. I said my business hours are 10am - 6pm, so any time after 10
will be fine, but not before.
He didn't seem to understand (or care).
I am extremely unimpressed.
Incidentally, should I be leaning on t-mobile harder, or do I really
have to deal with the bunch of muppets who caused the problem by
spamming me in the first place?
Fantastic 4 mobile Limited according to their website are based in
However, they run the following websites:
.. all of which give the address in Turkey. I have had email
communication with the "Customer Service" at
ad...@fantastic4mobile.com They claim "Tanla mobile is not our
mother comapany, they are an aggregator and as such provide us with
I have questioned them on where they got my number from, they have
"you were indeed signed up to one of our services............
your number was entered into one of the websites we control by another
user who is already a member (you were referred). It is possible that
they mis-typed a number and entered yours by mistake or that this
person does actually know you!"
I cannot see how this can be legal. How can I be signed up to a
service without giving my signature or any other information about
myself? They are openly admitting to allowing people to submit phone
numbers without the owners consent. This does not give them
permission to use this data. And I cannot see how this can be called
a "referral" when nobody knows who is referring who, and no permission
is sought from the victim. The fact that my number has been
registered with TPS shows they are not following the law. Aslo the
Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive" makes this type of
spamming illegal. I have raised these issues with them and they have
offerd to give me £2.00. I more interested having them justify their
AFAIK it isn't. There has to be double opt-in for services initiated
from anywhere other than SMS from the handset itself. I think/hope.
> I more interested having them justify their
> business practices.
Keep us posted. Spamming scum are the scourge of the industry.
Having just opened my phone bill I too have received one in June from
78181 which goes back to tanlamobile. Got one yesterday too from 81404
which also goes back to tanlamobile.
Spoke to Vodaphone yesterday about blocking texts from premium numbers,
this is before I realised I was being charged to receive them (until I
opened my bill today I thought you could only be charged for replying to
the premium rate number), and they to said they couldn't block incoming
premium rate texts. I've complained to ICSTIS about both of them and
requested a refund from tanlamobile for both of them.
I'm absolutely fucking fuming and will be escalating it with Vodaphone
now I realise I'm being charged.
I've also found there's a freetext number you can forward them to, it's
VSPAM or 87726 see:
bof at bof dot me dot uk
Unfortunately TPS is no use for texts, to quote from their website:
"The TPS can accept the registration of mobile telephone numbers,
however it is important to note that this will prevent the receipt of
marketing voice calls but not SMS (text) messages. If you wish to stop
receiving SMS marketing messages, please send an 'opt-out' request to
the company involved."
Excuse the follow-up to self but, as an FYI, I spoke to Vodaphone and
they issued a refund without quibble.
Excellent - about time the mobile operators started to learn that they
can't allow any old dodgy outfit to charge their customers' phone
bills and then expect the customer to take it up with the dodgy
All you have to do is write to the network operator's executive office
and request that they provide you with an audit trail proving that you
subscribed to the service for which they have charged you.
Make sure you tell them that if they are unable to do so, they will
have admitted being complicit in fraud which is a breach of the 1968
Theft Act and that you WILL involve the Police. At the same time, ask
for the name and office location of their Company Secretary as he/she
will be the one who has to front up to Plod.
If you genuinely are the victim of a scam (and I have been three
times, all with Orange), it works every time.
They back down immediately and will almost certainly blame it on the
previous owner of your number having subscribed to such services.
But you'll get a few quid in compensation out of them...........
>Make sure you tell them that if they are unable to do so, they will
>have admitted being complicit in fraud which is a breach of the 1968
>Theft Act and that you WILL involve the Police. At the same time, ask
>for the name and office location of their Company Secretary as he/she
>will be the one who has to front up to Plod.
It seems ridiculous that the customer should have to jump through hoops
to get their money back for something that they were not a party to the
networks should insist on the third party proving that they are entitled
to the money rather than the customer having to try to get it back.
>If you genuinely are the victim of a scam (and I have been three
>times, all with Orange), it works every time.
Glad to hear it but perhaps things would be better if Orange changed
their system to so that they were not collecting money for these con
>They back down immediately and will almost certainly blame it on the
>previous owner of your number having subscribed to such services.
Which sounds as if it could be plausible but is I bet is unlikely in
>But you'll get a few quid in compensation out of them...........
I doubt it would make up for the time wasted, there must be a better
Of course there's a better way; assume that all mobile numbers have
opted out of these "services" unless an audit trail proves otherwise.
Alas, as you know, the network operators take a tidy percentage of the
revenue and so aren't overly worried about things. Orange are
undoubtedly the worst culprits.
I pity the poor idiots on PAYG who won't have an invoice to support
their case if it ever got as far as Court. In fact, reverse-charged
SMS scams are the one reason I'll never switch to PAYG even though it
would benefit me financially.
> >Make sure you tell them that if they are unable to do so, they will
> >have admitted being complicit in fraud which is a breach of the 1968
> >Theft Act and that you WILL involve the Police. At the same time, ask
> >for the name and office location of their Company Secretary as he/she
> >will be the one who has to front up to Plod.
Good one. May I also point out that the Privacy and Electronics
Communications Directive has addressed SMS and email specifically and
makes this type of spamming illegal. A nice jargon free explanation
of the law is published here
As regards the organisations mentioned by Martin that started this
thread, I am getting only vauge responses from them. There attitude
has angered me enough to take a different approach. The prize for
playing their game and collecting enough points is a £10 gift voucher
from one of the 35 reputatable retailers listed on the site. I am
contacting all the retailers advertised on the sites to see if they
are happy to be associated with this type of marketing or if they
share the views of the folks on this list.
My wife has been on PAYG since 2000 and has never had a reverse billed
SMS. It's hardly an issue in deciding whether or not you'd be better
off on PAYG, she'd be several hundred pounds worse off if she been on
a typical rip-off "xx minutes for xx pounds a month" contract.
Just because contract doesn't suit your wife's usage pattern does not
mean they are a rip off.
Indeed. I've had one reverse-charge SMS in the last 10 years and it was
refunded by the company who sent the message. Although I did have to write
to them. But I got 3 quid for my 1 quid message plus another 2 quid back
from Orange, so I did quite well in the end..!
Not for everybody, but he didn't say that. It *would* be a ripoff for his
The base price of most are a rip-off, although if you CBA to deal with
complicated cashbacks, and negotiate a new deal or switch contract
every time the minimum contract period expires, then you can get good
value for a lot of hassle. A bit like borrowing on credit cards -
constantly shifting 0% deals around...
Personally I CBA.
That's interesting Paul!
"I'd consider kicking up more of a fuss but for £1.50 it's not worth
And that's just what the scammers want you to think! O2 made all the
same excuses to me as well, but I countered every one of them.
My phone never leaves my person when I'm in company, and is never lent
to anyone else, so I knew that no-one had signed me up for anything
without my knowledge. It's an old phone that doesn't support
downloaded ringtones, videos, games, or anything else.
Plus, I told them to check my SMS record for evidence that I had sent
to, or replied to any junk SMS.
I was VERY insistent that if they could not provide evidence that MY
phone had been used to request a premium rate service, then I would
take the matter to Trading Standards as a fraudulent charge.
I hope O2 haven't found a loophole to wriggle through.
But I agree with your second paragraph, that's how it should be!
(Reply via NG please)
I've never received a reverse-charged SMS - but the charges have
appeared on my invoice!
On each of the three different contracts I had with Orange (three
different numbers at three different times) the first I knew of a scam
in place was when I received my invoice.
So when you say your wife "has never had a reverse billed SMS" do you
mean to her phone or debited from her PAYG balance?
Because the two can be mutually exclusive..............hence my
original point. I wonder how many people check their PAYG balance and
think "that's lower than it should be" and never give it a second
At least with an invoice you can see (and use the invoice as evidence)
where and when you've been scammed.
Both. She would have noticed if her balance went down by Ł1.50 (it
usually goes down by that much *per month*!)
> Because the two can be mutually exclusive..............hence my
> original point. I wonder how many people check their PAYG balance
> think "that's lower than it should be" and never give it a second
Possibly - if you spend Ł20 or so a month. But even so, the
occasional one of these isn't going to make any significant difference
to the overall cost when comparing PAYG with contract.
I wouldn't do that, if these things worry you. I got one of these
spam text messages and T-Mobile were totally uninterested. All they
would do is tell me the name of the company responsibile for the
message and telling me to report to ICSTIS if I don't get any joy. I
questioned why I paid a monthly fee if the one time I really need
Customer Service, they fail me, and they had no response to that.
At least Orange gave you your money back. T-Mobile were adamant that
they wouldn't refund the charge, using the words, and I quote, "It's
not our fault."
I think an earlier poster said (or maybe I read it on a web forum) that
T-mobile would block premium rate texts for you, have you tried this?
I'll probably move to T-mobile if they do, as the hassle involved in
getting your money back from the scammer is just too great for the dosh
invovled, which, I guess, is what the scammers count on.
Same deal as everyone else here. Received an 81404 reverse charged
SMS for £1.27 + VAT on my O2 bill to which I hadn't subscribed or even
recieved. Apparently it came from Tanla Mobile (surprise surprise).
Spoken to O2 three times now including a manager - all of whom said
they couldn't do anything. Spoke to Tanla Mobile and got a call
centre in India twice. Both times they said someone would call me
back in 2-3 working days (I'm still waiting). Have also reported this
to ISCTIS - http://www.icstis.org.uk/consumers/how_to_complain/default.asp.
Tanla Mobile are no stranger to ISCTIS and reverse charge texts -
After having come across this forum, I tried O2 again and as
suggested, asked them if they'd check my records for proof that I'd
done anything to request a premium rate text (they couldn't). I then
told them as suggested in this forum that if they couldn't provide
proof that it was fraud which is a breach of the 1968 Theft Act and
that I would be involving the police and taking them to court. O2
have now said they'll refund the money - so I'll wait to see if the
credit appears on my next bill.
By the way, if your 'phone company directs you to Tanla Mobile and
gives you the 0871 9180999 number, which will cost you money,
especially when they direct you to the Indian call centre and you have
to ask for everything to be repeated, use the national rate number of
0207 494 5600 and either explain the problem to the first person you
speak to in the hopes they won't transfer you to India or take the
plunge and ask for Customer Care (call centre in India).
Also if you need to speak to O2, don't do it on their 0870 number
(also costly), go to http://www.saynoto0870.com/ and find either an
0800 freephone or national/local rate number.
It seems that if you want to make lots of money, set up a 'phone
business. Remember O2 get a cut (up to 30%?) for these premium rate
scams, so don't give up.
I hope it will help and advise you.
For your information...
ICSTIS have just ruled that these people have been sending
unsolicited texts, omitting pricing information from the texts,
and failing to disclose Tanla Mobile's identity to recipients.
ICSTIS have imposed a £50,000 fine, and a bar on the service.
ICSTIS have also ordered Tanla Mobile to refund those affected.
If you were affected, you can contact Tanla Mobile for a refund
Tanla Mobile Ltd
39 Charing Cross Road
0871 240 3500
In my case, Vodafone already refunded me (although they said
The adjudication will appear on http://www.icstis.org.uk/ in
due course (but isn't there yet).
FYI I've just received a refund from Tanla after phoning 08000 821 040
and leaving details on an answer machine.
There's more here too: <http://www.giagia.co.uk/?p=118>
also complain about the ineffectiveness of ICSTIS, and ask for some
effective regulation to be put in place to:
John Hutton, Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise &
1 Victoria Street
It's currently my intention to move from Vodaphone to T-mobile when my
contract is up for renewal, and most certainly let them know the reason.
The only way to persuade the network operators to provide a barring
facility is to make it cost them more than they make from not providing
such a service.
Also I think "scam" is the wrong phrase here, it implies the victims are
cheated or tricked in some way which is not the case. Unsolicited
reverse charge SMS is just plain theft, and should be called such.
View this thread: http://www.wirelessforums.org/showthread.php?t=23950
Goto <http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/> (the new name for ICSTIS) and
report them. Tanla were recently fined £50,000 by ICSTIS for premium
rate scams, it sounds like the fine wasn't enough to deter them.
And go here to see other adjudications against Tanla: