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WASPA warns against new SMS scam

Released: 11 October 2010

The Wireless Application Service Providers' Association of South Africa (WASPA) has warned people trading in second-hand goods to be wary of a new scam where buyers send them fraudulent confirmations of bank deposits so that they can obtain the seller's goods for free.

The scammers use commercial SMS messaging services to send the seller an apparently legitimate confirmation that they have deposited the money they will be paying for the goods. They then insist on taking the goods from the seller, who soon discovers that no deposit was ever made to his bank account.

The scams target people selling goods in newspaper classifieds and online services such as Gumtree. The fraudsters currently operate mostly on the weekends and in the evenings.

Said WASPA management committee member Casper de Villiers: "Unfortunately, it is all too easy for scammers to create and send an SMS that is a convincing replica of the ones that your bank might send when someone makes a deposit in your account.

"We recommend not releasing the goods you are selling until you see the deposit reflected in your bank account when you look at your statements online or using cellphone banking."

De Villiers said that people selling goods to strangers always need to be cautious in their dealings and ensure that the buyer has lived up to his promise of payment before parting with the goods.

He added that WASPA and its members are taking a proactive approach to fighting this sort of abuse of commercial SMS messaging platforms. WASPA urges any member of the public who has fallen prey to such a scam to immediately report the matter at the nearest police station where they will be able to open a case.

WASPA and its members will use this information to alert the public to new scam techniques and to refine their own approaches to fighting scammers.



WASPA represents the mobile development; value added services and content services community in South Africa. After lobbying the mobile operators and WASPs in late 2003 for an industry body, WASPA's formative meeting was held in August 2004. Membership of WASPA was made mandatory by the mobile operators and TV stations for any company doing value added services in South Africa.

WASPA's remit is to promote and self-regulate the WASP industry. As part of the self-regulatory component of WASPA, there is the now internationally recognized and emulated self-regulatory regime for mobile value added services that includes the WASPA Code of Conduct & Advertising Rules. WASPA's Code of Conduct regulates inter alia, competitions, chat, adult services, spam, CRM, advertising of services,subscription services and pricing. The first version of the Code was passed in June 2004 and implemented on 1 September 2005. It has been updated numerous times as the need has arisen.

Enforcement of the Code & Advertising Rules is achieved by a novel quasi-judicial system that consists of a procedure for lodging and responding to complaints where it is thought the Code is being contravened. Adherence to the Code and the Advertising rules is mandatory for all providers operating in South Africa.

ICT lawyers acting as WASPA adjudicators will find on the merits and have the power to suspend, fine, expel any WASP or Information Provider found to contravene the Code rules. Adjudications are enforced through contractual provisions in all WASP agreements. There is also a 3-person appeals panel as well as an emergency panel.

Issued by:

Ivan Booth
Reliable Sources PR
082 851 7419
ivan (at) reliablesources.co.za