Text messaging scam costs Telecom thousands

Telecom Mobile has been stung by a ring of Wellington students to the tune of $40,000 a day, in a scam that accounts for almost half of Telecom's text message traffic, according to weekly business publication, The Independent.

Telecom Mobile has been stung by a ring of Wellington students to the tune of $40,000 a day, in a scam that accounts for almost half of Telecom’s text message traffic, according to weekly business publication, The Independent.

The scam involved youths all over the North Island, was started in Wellington and seemed to centre round “schools and universities,” Telecom fraud unit manager Colin Yates told IDGNet today.

“They were using pre-pay mobile phones, running them down to less than $2 credit and then entering an invalid recharge card number three times in a row.”

Yates says Telecom introduced a limit of three tries to avoid having people try repeated combinations of numbers in an attempt to hit a lucky active number.

However the lock-out only applied to voice calls and not text messaging.

“We didn’t know about it until some kind person pointed it out to us.”

The loophole has now been blocked but those that knew about it managed to clock up 40% of Telecom’s text message traffic in the three months it went unchecked.

“Of course many of those messages were only sent because they were free so it’s an artificially high number.”

Up to 200,000 messages were sent each day for a total of $40,000 a day. However because the value of each transaction is so small - only 20 cents – Telecom won’t be taking the matter to the police.

“It would tie up too many resources to be worthwhile really.”

Telecom is about to introduce its next-generation cellular network CDMA, which allows users to be continually connected to the network and to download data at much higher speeds. Yates says Telecom has been working with partners around the world to ensure the new network will be secured.

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