WARNING: SMS scam on Android !

You gotta be kidding !!!

This is a BIG warning to everyone out there – you have to be SOOOO careful when downloading any app that isn’t in the official App Store or Marketplace or Samsung App store or any other official store.

Here is what happened:

On the Android phone is a notification bar and it had a link to download a Battery Manager. Since I am in the market for one, I clicked on the link.

update 19 January 2012: they are still pushing this app which is how I got these new screen shots of it:

Notification of the app 

It downloaded as usual and then once it completed installing I received the following SMS :

SC20120118-211643

and then instantly I get the following 3 SMS in a row:

SC20120118-211702

At no point did I SMS their number to say I want in and at no point did I subscribe to this – obviously I immediately sent the STOP SMS:

SC20120118-211714

Here is what their Application looks like:

SC20120118-211727

So how on earth did this happen ?

I reviewed my phone’s history and found this:

http://tracking.cornerblue.com/aff_c?offer_id=192&aff_id=1&aff_sub=textad1&source=ap&12639

Cornerblue seems to be a marketing company that was responsible for the notification in the toolbar:

image

I then found the evidence and the smoking gun:

http://get.batteryoptimizer.net/lp6.b/index.html?utm_source=cb&utm_campaign=2012-01-13.opt.b&utm_term=southafrica&custom_tag=en-smsmyway50-southafrica&click_key=1025757d3aac661de2b79ab#######

As you can see in the URL this app has automatically opted me IN to their scheme at R50 per month !!

This is highly illegal and goes against Consumer Protection Act and in the morning I shall be calling My Way on the 0800-999-239 number.

I am also contacting WASPA to lodge a complaint there and I emailed cornerblue.com to inform them of what their client is up to. I invited them to comment so that I can update this story – lets see what they do

AAAHHHHH !!!!!!!
image

Update 19 January 2012:  if you follow the discussion happening in the comment section you will notice that I was asked if the app can send SMS on your behalf without you knowing about. So I installed the application again but this time took out my SIM card and here is the screen shot that shows the exact control this application has on your phone:

Notice what it can do – You messages, Network, storage Services that cost you money, money, Phone calls, System tool – boy was I stupid to allow that to be installed.

If you click on Optimize (which is what this app is suppose to do to your battery), it brings up the next screen:

Here is where it says in tiny font about the R50 – there is no way to get out of it. You can not click anywhere to cancel this screen.

Then the next screen comes up:

It tells you it is about to AUTO-SEND the SMS for you – again with no way to cancel this.

THIS is what I am pissed about. There is no way to cancel out of it. The buttons are labelled as NEXT & DONE. They get around the South African rule of double confirmation of Opting In by having two screens – the first one does the first SMS and the second one does the second confirmation for you.

Can anyone find a CANCEL button ? Can anyone find a BACK button ?  why did they use a tiny font for the R50 catch where there is the entire screen to use ?

If  the application pre-populate an SMS with the Opt-in text and then opened up the SMS facility and waited for me to press SEND then I would understand. By taking the control away from me and not allowing me to cancel it, this is why I am saying this is a scam.

 

48 Comments

on “WARNING: SMS scam on Android !
48 Comments on “WARNING: SMS scam on Android !
  1. I downloaded the app too.

    What you don’t show in your post is that that app has a two screen opt in process in the app. 1) Showing the features you get in the premium version which you have to click and 2) a screen detailing the cost and terms of service which you have to click .

    They do not sign you up without your knowledge. You have to click and to get subscribed to the SMS. Don’t click next and defnitely don’t click done.

    Hope this helps!

    • Thank you for your comment. I didnt get that far to see the 2nd screen as immediately after I installed it, the SMS came through saying I am subscribed.
      Even on the download site where it has the options and people comments etc. if you click on anything it immediately starts the installation and closes the site – you cant even see who the developers are.
      This app is built with a trap in mind to purposely trap you – pity as it looked like a good app…

  2. lol. I’m an Android programmer and what you say happened isn’t even technically possible. You’re basically saying it took control of your phone and starting sending SMS messages before you installed the app. Nope.

    I checked the site out and it’s not doing anything sneaky behind the scenes… although it does start the download when you click on anything on the page.

    I didn’t install the app… but what you’re saying doesn’t make sense. What the previous commenter said sounds a *lot* more likely. You should pay better attention to what you’re clicking.

    I agree that users should be careful about what kind of apps they download and install on their phones. But you should also be more careful about scaring people with FUD. My mom forwarded me this link because she was scared her phone could be taken over by a website.

    • No, what I am saying that once it installed before I could click on anything I received the SMS. As an Android programmer you would know that if the user gives permission to an app, you can basically control the phone. As a programmer you would know that the SMS controls are available and with a few lines of code you can send an SMS, an Email and even place a phone call.
      If you install the app, check out the permission set that it has control over.

      By the way: there are lots of apps that control the battery – what website did you go to ? If you went to the one I installed from how can you say its not doing anything sneaky as anything you click starts the download and the site closes ? Other legitimate sites dont do that unless you click the Install or Download button/ link.

      I agree we dont read the screens, but most legitimate apps are written in such a way that the user has control. Most ASK the user would you like to … with a YES or NO option. Naming the Exit button as DONE is certainly very sneaky.

      • Ok. I misunderstood your post. It sounds like you were saying that while it was downloading / installing it sent the SMS.

        And I did note in my original comment that it doesn’t do anything sneaky (meaning sending SMS) in the background *and* it downloads on any click. I don’t know if that’s really “sneaky”, since it still can’t install it without your explicit consent. Bad user experience? Perhaps. Sneaky (i.e. bad)? No (imo).

        Also, just my 2c, but you should update the post to more accurately reflect the real process, since you now seem to be acknowledging that there are screens and the app didn’t automatically sign you up.

        You may disagree with what happened (call the support number from the first text and you can probably get a refund), but calling it illegal now appears to not be true (and maybe even puts you at risk). This is just a personal pet peeve of mine as a developer when somebody makes a damaging claim and then it turns out to be incorrect and the original claim isn’t updated. I once had an app get incorrectly flagged as containing a virus, and it’s almost impossible to undo what has been done on the internet… fair, or not.

        • Point taken – I did change the sentence to show that ONCE it installed…
          To be clear: I agree there are two screens – the part I have a real issue with is the part that I DID NOT agree to sign up to. When you click on DONE it shouldn’t send an SMS.
          If you look at the time of the SMS at 21:08 I get 3 SMS in a row – the first saying welcome, the second some instruction and the third some rubbish information.

          when I call the support number it doesn’t exist and when I did a search on it, it is some dial-back international call center service that is a PAY PER MINUTE service.

          so basically, I get an SMS I didn’t want, I get signed up to a service I don’t want, I paid for an SMS to unsubscribe (even though it says its free), I then pay per minute to talk to them ?

          I am a programmer too, so I full understand a “user complaint” – this isnt bad design, this is a scam (imo).

  3. Also (sorry for not posting this in my earlier comment… I didn’t notice it until I was closing the page), there is a link at the bottom of the page for the developer’s site. It’s a pretty generic site… but it has phone numbers and complete contact info. I didn’t call any of the numbers.

        • Yip on a web browser on a PC it doesn’t look the same as the screen shot I show in the post. No popup that when you click anywhere on the page it downloads and installs.

          Also look at the reviews section – the order of the Reviews: Showing the most recent reviews is not in order either – Sep. 18, 2011, Oct. 3, 2011, Oct. 2, 2011, Sep. 9, 2011, Nov. 20, 2011
          Finally if this app has over 1 million downloads – surely this should be in the Marketplace…
          Why is it not there ? it costs nothing…

          just a thought…

  4. We are the marketing company that promoted this offer. We work closely with our advertisers to make sure their application is compliant with local law. As many of the comments above mentioned, the application has a 2 page opt-in that also states how much you will be charged if you upgrade to the Pro version of this software. They have great customer support so if you are not satisfied in any way, you can contact the number listed in the app.

    You may also contact us at anytime as we stand behind the companies we promote.

    • thank you for getting in touch after my contact with you. I am not disputing the 2 screen opt-in – I am disputing the fact that once you click on the first screen only then you are told about the charges AND THEN THERE IS NO WAY TO EXIT/ CANCEL/ UNDO – so the ONLY button there is is a NEXT button and then you are told about the more charges on the 2nd screen and again there is no way to exit/ cancel/ undo – you HAVE to click on DONE.

      I did contact the number and was told it was not functioning.

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  7. Hmm, I also just got this app in the notification bar. When I clicked on this notification it started the automatic download. At this point I deleted the .apk from my downloads and didn’t install it.

    What I’m interested in is how this got into my notifications bar in the first place, it looked like an official push due to it’s ‘+’ image, I don’t like the idea that any marketing company can push their unwanted apps onto my notification bar without me asking for them.

    Perhaps CornerBlue can advise on how they are pushing this onto notification bars.

  8. Hello,

    This app was just forced into my Notification bar today, i clicked on it and it downloaded, i thought it was genuine. it then automatically sent a to 60140 costing 10p then called 700034627 twice costing £1.50 each time…

    Now im no laywer but im pretty sure that it still has to ask permission in order to charge you for a service. as it doesnt i gonna say this is an epic SCAM… No way im calling the number it give for there “helpdesk”

    Has anyone had any luck with getting this app caught out and getting money back??

    Thanks
    Neil

  9. Hi there,
    I have an asus epad and have a question,?
    I dont now how but this battery app is showing itself every day in right corner.
    a few times i downloaded it and directly delete it, because i dont trust it.
    But i want to get it away, HOW does anybody know.
    sorry for my language style but iam dutch.
    have a nice day Ruud

    • you probably have an app downloaded that is “informing” you of other applications that you might like. They look official but they are not. I am now very weary of what I install and from where.

      • Oke, thank you very much for replying.
        I only download from the app market but i look into it,
        if i found something i let you know

        grt. Ruud

  10. Okay, for me this was caused by something called AirPush. I recommend you download an app from the marketplace called ‘airpush detector’, this will scan all your apps installed on your phone and show the ones that use airpush. You can then delete the offending apps.
    In my case it was an app called Tokyo Metro which just displays an outdated Tokyo Metro map on the screen.

    Hope that helps.

    Dave

  11. YES!!!!! i found it, by the program you advise me (airpush detector).
    The program called TABLET WALLPAPERS and stupid of me,,,,,,,, the makers called mobile spy. I delete it a few hours ago and no more messages until now.

    Thanks for your advise and grts,
    Ruud

    • I downloaded and installed this app too. Also after the deinstalling I get every 4 days the message: “Confirm your request for SMS My Way R50.00/month. Reply “Yes” to confirm/”No” to cancel, free SMS.” To send them a “No” doesn´t help, The messages are coming regulary.
      The phone numbers of the SMS´s are every time different and I see no way to cancel it. Can somebody help? Thanks in advance!

      • I have the exact same issue and still can’t make them stop sending me those SMS. I registered a complaint with waspa.org.za and that didn’t help at all but is your first point of reference. Then call myway and ask to be removed. I am still trying to get off their system. Then I am going to hellopeter and finally using cpa. It’s ridiculous

    • Download from the Market Place (or Google Play) the app called: airpush detector – it will find out which app is pushing those notification to you and then you uninstall that offending app.

  12. I got conned by this,and I thought I was wise to most of the scams. I never ever choose anything that includes any sort of subscription it’s almost impossible to stop people taking money, and the terms and conditions in the small print cover them. There is no cance or opt out, surely all government sshould agree to make these scams illegal world wide and trace where the money goes and expose the criminals and con artists.

  13. My 11 year old son has also became a victim of this too, with our last mobile bill reaching £170 over and above the normal billing amount. My poor boy swore blind that he hadnt done anything wrong and wasnt sending messages from is mobile. Needless to say his mobile was removed from him and since then we have still been getting chrged extra for our bill each month (over by at least £10 per month) i have noticed several notifications appearing in the notice bar, he has obviously been clicking on these and thats what has caused the bill to be so high. I have now downloaded airpush detector and uninstalled the apps which appeared.

    Fingers crossed this works and thanks for your advice.

  14. hello i used the airpush detector and found that the app ‘mario cart’ had the airpush in it. Thank you VERY MUCH for the info!!

  15. I did the same thing and have downloaded every anti virus etc…. Also when I text stop 60133 it replied “you are not registered for this service” is this a good sign?

  16. I’ve just become victim of this vicious scam. I am pretty new to the Android world and never thought for one minute that any app can automatically send a text (as if you had done it yourself) directly from your phone to subscribe you to a 2 week subscription for £4.50. I didn’t even know that it was in my inbox until I saw my recent bill display £4.50 on my Three account.

    I reported it to Three but their was not much help. Far as they were concerned I had subscribed to this manually and that was that – A Three agent advised me over the phone to send ‘Stop’ to the 60074 number. It failed to go through, he said he will get the Three administration team to investigate where the source is to get in contact with them to stop the subscription. But there is a problem with that – Nobody can get through and nobody can track them down from what I’ve read on other forums!. I’ve tried their helpline number and its always busy.

    He did say they can track the source and within 48hours the service will be blocked from texting me and then I will no longer be charged every 2 weeks. But I am not so convinced with what that guy said there from Three.

    Does anyone know if Three are able to block subscriptions such as this one. I would of thought any mobile network provider would have the power to block such things. But with Three I get the impression their is fuck all they can do about it. Just feeding me bullshit peace-of-mind info to keep me happy for the time being.

    This thread should not be focused more on whether or not it is a scam., This is pretty damn obvious! Instead this post should be about coming up with a solution to prevent being charged by this scam once you’ve fallen victim of it. Because the people that have found this thread (like myself) already know its a scam, otherwise if we were not victims of this, we would not have found this thread in the first place. I just want sound advice from someone who had been a victim of this scam.

  17. Hi the battery upgrade keeps buggin me poppin up on my phone saying your phone needs an update ive clikd on the page a few times bcoz i av to, to get rid ov it on my screen iv tha makes sense i have a sony ericsson arc i havnt no txts from them but i have ones sayin i havnt claimd from the accident i had lol how do i stop the battery upgrade buggin me all the time and how do they take the money off you? Can they get hold of my bank details?

  18. I was getting charge for this subscription. I text the word STOP back to 60140, I had a text sent right back to be letting me know I have been unsubscribe to the service, also had there customer support number. I gave them a ring to see if I could get a refund for this month, they provided me with a refund with no hassle!

  19. I just cancelled my 60074 (activated by Super battery unbeknown to me!) and I rang the 0800 number they texted back with and they have refunded the charges.

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