Vodafone and its SMS text scammers

, posted: 10-Mar-2007 11:44

The text scam item on TV3's Campbell Live piqued my curiosity for a variety of reasons. First, I recognised the domain name in the video clip, lovecalculator.co.nz, as they're advertising on Google, and appear on my blog (yes, I'll try to get those ads removed).

Campbell's reporter was unable to work out who is behind the site sending $5 unsolicited text messages to people, but Vodafone didn't seem too concerned about the anonymity. The only important thing seems to be that there's an 0800 number for people to call.

I'm not sure what type of business arrangement Vodafone has with lovecalculator.co.nz, but if they owe the mobile operator money, perhaps this should be of some concern?
So who's behind the site then? The whois data for lovecalculator.co.nz looks decidedly bogus and would appear to be in breach of .nz registration rules:
version: 1.23.0
query_datetime: 2007-03-10T11:29:27+13:00
domain_name: lovecalculator.co.nz
query_status: 200 Active
domain_dateregistered: 2007-01-12T15:45:15+13:00
domain_datebilleduntil: 2008-01-12T15:45:15+13:00
domain_datelastmodified: 2007-01-12T16:00:02+13:00
domain_delegaterequested: yes
registrar_name: 1st Domains
registrar_address1: P O Box 1520
registrar_address2: Christchurch Mail Centre
registrar_city: Christchurch
registrar_province: Canterbury
registrar_country: NZ (NEW ZEALAND)
registrar_phone: +64 3 962-9520
registrar_fax: +64 3 962-9513
registrar_email: hostmaster@1stdomains.net.nz
registrant_contact_name: MobileFone
registrant_contact_address1: 20
registrant_contact_address2: Canning
registrant_contact_city: Sydney
registrant_contact_province: WA
registrant_contact_postalcode: 6154
registrant_contact_country: AU (AUSTRALIA)
registrant_contact_phone: +61 2 9999999
registrant_contact_email: support@mobilefone.com.au
admin_contact_name: MobileFone
admin_contact_address1: 20
admin_contact_address2: Canning
admin_contact_city: Sydney
admin_contact_province: WA
admin_contact_postalcode: 6154
admin_contact_country: AU (AUSTRALIA)
admin_contact_phone: +61 2 9999999
admin_contact_email: support@mobilefone.com.au
technical_contact_name: MobileFone
technical_contact_address1: 20
technical_contact_address2: Canning
technical_contact_city: Sydney
technical_contact_province: WA
technical_contact_postalcode: 6154
technical_contact_country: AU (AUSTRALIA)
technical_contact_phone: +61 2 9999999
technical_contact_email: support@mobilefone.com.au
ns_name_01: ns1.ratedhosting.com
ns_name_02: ns2.ratedhosting.com

The source for the site also points to mobilfone.com.au, which has this registration data:

Domain Name: mobilefone.com.au
Last Modified: Never Updated
Registrar ID: R00011-AR
Registrar Name: Namescout
Registrant: Eugeni Tsvetnenko
Registrant ID: ABN 98436424307
Eligibility Type: Company
Eligibility Name: Eugeni Tsvetnenko
Eligibility ID: ABN 98436424307
Registrant ROID: C2204266-AR
Registrant Contact Name: Mr Eugeni Tsvetnenko
Registrant Email: Visit whois.ausregistry.com.au for Web based WhoIs
Tech ID: C1955940-AR
Tech Name: Mr Eugeni Tsvetnenko
Tech Email: Visit whois.ausregistry.com.au for Web based WhoIs
Name Server: ns1.ratedhosting.com
Name Server: ns2.ratedhosting.com

Mr Tsvetnenko is known to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Commerce Commission equivalent across the Tasman:

Mr Tsvetnenko trades under the name Mobile Adverts and carries on the business of operating adult entertainment chat services using mobile phone short messaging services (SMS).

The ACCC was concerned that Mobile Adverts made representations to the public in print and on the internet that users of the service could make contact with the people profiled in the advertisements for possible introduction and dating.

Mobile Adverts also represented that users of the service could not list their own profile as advertised, and the ACCC believes that the price advertising used by Mobile Adverts may cause some confusion to consumers.

Mr Tsvetnenko has provided a Section 87B undertaking to the ACCC that he will not:

* advertise that Mobile Adverts provides dating or introduction services, when that is not the case;
* advertise only part of the price of Mobile Adverts services but rather advertise the total price, where there are additional costs or charges that apply; nor
* represent that customer profiles can be listed on dating or introductory services advertised by Mobile Adverts, when there is no facility to list customer profiles.

The thing is, it didn't take me very long at all to find the above information.

What's Vodafone's excuse for not discovering it then?

Other related posts:
Nokia upgrades: Symbian Belle for the N8 and MeeGo PR1.2 Harmattan for N9
Yes, this iPod still works
Samsung Galaxy Tab so good Apple wants it banned?

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