'Secret Crush' Scam Dumped by Authorities
The company that conned cellphone owners into signing up for expensive data plans will now pay a $500,000 fine to the New York Attorney General's office. Game Theory LLC has also been told it must stop sending unsolicited texts.
Game Theory is said to have sent more than 150,000 misleading texts in less than two months last summer. The texts told people that an unnamed person had a romantic crush on them and they could find out who it was by replying with the word 'yes.'
It's not clear how many people replied affirmatively. While it's likely most people ignored the texts, an operation of this kind relies on percentages: if even a tiny portion of those sent the 'come-ons' fall for the scam, the company makes a profit.
For those who did say 'yes,' there was no secret lover. Instead, they unwittingly signed up for monthly dating tips by phone, a service that carried a $9.99 charge.
"Diet Tips": Expensive Disappointment
Variations on the same scam used other enticing phrases, such as "You have 1 unread message," or "Someone sent you a weird diet tip that works."
The company also claimed to offer a cellphone application that could manipulate photographs. Again, those expressing an interest wound up with an unexpected $9.99 monthly charge. (Source: newsday.com)
Although the company claimed that users had agreed to these services by responding to the original 'come-on' texts, it was clear to the authorities that people had been misled.
New York's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, said "As a result of this settlement, Game Theory is out of the texting business for good and this corporation will be held accountable for its conduct." (Source: pcmag.com)
Legal Chief Offers Text Safety Tips
Schneiderman urged cellphone users to adopt a few safety measures in the future to avoid such scams. Most notably, they should ask their service provider to block third-party charges altogether.
He also said users should never respond to an unsolicited text message, even if it claims that texting back the word "Stop" will prevent further messages or charges. Instead, the right move is to simply delete and ignore these kinds of messages.
Schneiderman's other tips include: never clicking or tapping on links in an unsolicited message; checking phone bills carefully for unwanted charges; and making sure children who use cell phones are aware of potential scams.