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ACCC busts Bieber scamming mobile content pushers

Regulator slaps down premium SMS naughtiness

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Mobile content providers attempting to dupe vulnerable teenagers with premium content honey traps have attracted the wrath of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Federal Court.

The Australian Federal Court has dismissed appeals by mobile content service providers Global One Mobile Entertainment and 6G, upholding an earlier court decision which found the providers guilty of false and misleading advertising practices.

The series of offending advertisements targeted teens with Justin Bieber-inspired content, misleading them into getting hooked into ongoing premium rate mobile phone subscriptions.

The companies were fined penalties totalling $375,000. “The decision of the Full Court in this matter should serve as a reminder to any mobile content providers looking for quick gains by misleading consumers that they could be facing significant penalties,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Global One and 6G provide mobile premium services including ring tones, games and quizzes. The misleading TV advertisements offered consumers services at a one-off cost but were actually using the opt-in as access to an continuing premium rate mobile subscription

“This is the culmination of a significant program to deal with the level of complaints about mobile premium services. The ACCC and other agencies have used a range of tools to address the issues, resulting in a decline in complaints and consumer harm,” Sims said. ®

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