Hope’s company called Cylon LLC of Phoneix Arizona, gained approval for Verizon’s premium short code text messaging service by promising everything from recipes to video game tips to their customers. Through Hopes websites customers would sign up for some kind of text tip sheet to be texted to them daily and use a shot code to opt in at $3-$10 per month. Hope kept a number of legitimate premium text sites up and then used the same approved short codes and opened up more sites with unapproved content.
In addition to the unapproved content these other “shadow sites” didn’t follow the same stringent protocol Verizon has for premium content and didn’t disclose the cost to customers. A Verizon corporate store employee in New Jersey who wanted to withhold his name said that at the store level they have a hard enough time explaining to customers that they did request the texting service on known and approved sites.
Read more after the break
Verizon says that Hope and his co-conspirators blocked certain IP addresses from accessing the “shadow” sites and redirecting them to shell websites which made it harder for Verizon to track them in regular audits for compliance.
This issue is more than just unwanted spam text messages. Wireless customers on any carrier may not notice a $3.00 or $10.00 charge on their bill however after a couple of months and thousands of customers that money starts to add up.
Verizon’s lawsuit names Jason Hope, Wayne P. DeStefano and the companies they own, Cylon LLC, Jawa and Eye Level Holdings among others. They are seeking an immediate injunction against all the defendants from further defrauding Verizon Wireless and it’s customers.
Since 2004 Verizon Wireless has brought more than 20 lawsuits against perpetrators of text message fraud. Verizon Wireless has donated the proceeds from those settlements to domestic violence prevention and law enforcement organizations.
If you feel you’ve been the victim of this text messaging fraud please visit http://premiumsmsrefunds.com
Source: WSJ and Verizon Wireless