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WASPA Cautions Against "419" SMS Messages

Released: 21 October 2009

The Wireless Application Service Providers' Association of SA (WASPA) today urged mobile phone users to be vigilant after a series of fraudulent SMS messages targeted cellphone users with promises of monetary rewards.

This particular SMS scam appears to be similar to the 419 scams routinely reported worldwide. The latter are named after the section of the Nigerian penal code which prohibits them.

WASPA received reports of mobile phone users being targeted with similar SMS messages in the United States and the United Kingdom which indicates the problem is not confined to South Africa and more than likely did not originate in this country.

"The fact that 419-type scams have made it onto the mobile phone is an unfortunate development. It illustrates how fraudsters constantly refine their nefarious activities to take advantage of every technological platform available to them. WASPA urges cellphone users to delete these messages as soon as they are received," said Neil Hutchinson, WASPA management committee member.

WASPA believes no legitimate South African WASP is connected with these messages. The fact that the SMS messages were sent across multiple networks in multiple countries proves this.

The SMS messages are simply a way of making contact with potential victims in the same way that 419 fraudsters have tended to use email to defraud unsuspecting persons.

WASPA stated that according to the trends that have been reported, it appears users are not charged to receive the fraudulent SMS messages. This means securing direct money transfers from a victim's to a fraudster's bank account appears to be the ultimate goal of the messages.

Example of a Fraudulent Text Message:

Congratulations! your mobile phone number has won 500 thousand pounds in the nokia promo. claim code NK12 to claim email claimdept@sify.com phone +447810021950



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