Feeds

Android dev smacked with £50k fine over premium rate SMS scam

PhonepayPlus: You'll have to refund punters too...

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

UK regulator PhonepayPlus has fined a Russian firm £50,000 after it was found guilty of peddling a deceptive Android application that signed unwitting victims up to a premium-rate text service.

Connect Ltd, trading as SMSBill, reportedly promised access to Android games. After the app was installed, a text message was also sent to a premium-rate number, generating a £10 charge on victims' phones from the resulting auto-reply message. After being charged, the consumer was redirected to the 7mobi.net "GamePortal", where they could play games.

The terms and conditions for the application only explained that a charge would be incurred six pages into the small print, and even then inaccurately suggested only a £5 charge would be incurred.

The dodgy behaviour was spotted by security researchers at Sophos. SophosLabs researcher Vanja Svajcer discovered a malicious link on Facebook that led to malware being downloaded onto his Android smartphone back in February. Aggrieved punters also lodged complaints about lack of pricing information and charging without consent with PhonepayPlus, prompting an investigation.

Connect Ltd was last week found guilty of "very serious" breaches of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice for premium-rate phone services, as explained in more detail in an adjudication.

The unregistered service provider was ordered to refund affected customers within the next three months as well as paying the £50,000 fine. In addition, Connect Ltd is also obliged to lodge any proposals for new premium-rate services to the regulator before releasing them in the UK, during a probationary period of two years.

Consumers spent between £100,000 to £250,000 on the service, according to PhonepayPlus, although it is unclear how much revenue Connect Ltd itself made from the dodgy Android app.

More commentary on the information security aspects of the case can be found in a blog post by Sophos here. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.