There Are Two Types Of SMS Pumping Fraud
One type involves forcing websites to send SMS messages to a provider that they profit from, the other is to send SMS messages to individuals to get them to reply to very high-cost phone numbers.
The SMS Pumping ScamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. Targetting Individuals
SMS pumping fraud refers to a type of fraudulent activity where individuals or organizations manipulate mobile phone users into sending premium-rate SMS messages without their knowledge or consent.
SMS pumping fraud, also known as text message pumping fraud or SMS crammingCramming Cramming is when phone companies or third-party billing companies place misleading, unauthorized, deceptive or poorly explained charges on a phone bill., is a type of fraudulent scheme that targets mobile phone users. It involves manipulating individuals into unknowingly or unintentionally sending premium-rate SMS messages, resulting in unauthorized charges on their mobile phone bills.
This scam typically involves sending unsolicited text messages to potential victims, enticing them with fake offers or prizes, and tricking them into replying or interacting with the message in a way that triggersTRIGGERS A trigger is a stimulus that sets off a memory of a trauma or a specific portion of a traumatic experience. premium-rate charges. The fraudsters then profit from the inflated charges incurred by the victims. It is important to be cautious and skeptical of unsolicited messages and to avoid engaging with suspicious or unknown senders to protect yourself from SMS pumping fraud.
For example, those “hi” messages that entice a user to reply asking who that was, can often result in very high SMS reply fees.
Here’s How SMS Pumping Fraud Typically Works:
- Unsolicited Text Messages: Fraudsters send unsolicited text messages to a large number of mobile phone users. These messages often appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a well-known company, service provider, or contest organizer.
- Tempting Offers or Prizes: The messages entice recipients with attractive offers, prizes, discounts, or exclusive content, aiming to capture their attention and interest. These offers may promise free downloads, ringtones, games, or access to premium services.
- Interaction Prompt: The fraudulent messages instruct recipients to reply or interact in some way to claim the offer or prize. This interaction could involve sending a specific keyword, providing personal information, clicking on a link, or downloading a file.
- Premium-Rate Charges: By responding or interacting with the message, victims unknowingly triggerTRIGGERS A trigger is a stimulus that sets off a memory of a trauma or a specific portion of a traumatic experience. premium-rate SMS services. These services charge significantly higher rates than regular text messages, with the fees often added to the victims’ mobile phone bills.
- Revenue Generation: The fraudsters profit from the inflated charges incurred by the victims. They typically receive a portion of the revenue generated by the premium-rate services, while the legitimate service providers or content providers involved in the fraud may also benefit financially.
To Avoid Falling Victim To SMS Pumping Fraud Or Prohibit It Effectively, Consider The Following Measures:
- Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Messages: Exercise caution when receiving unsolicited text messages, especially from unknown or unfamiliar senders. Be wary of offers that seem too good to be true or request personal information.
- Review Your Phone Bill Regularly: Thoroughly review your mobile phone bills on a monthly basis to identify any unexpected or unauthorized charges. If you notice unfamiliar charges, contact your mobile service provider immediately to dispute them.
- Don’t Respond or Engage: Avoid responding to or interacting with suspicious messages, particularly those that prompt you to send a reply or provide personal information. Delete such messages to minimize the risk of inadvertently initiating premium-rate services.
- Enable SMS Filters or Blockers: Many mobile devices and service providers offer SMS filtering or blockingBlocking Blocking is a technical action usually on social media or messaging platforms that restricts or bans another profile from seeing or communicating with your profile. To block someone on social media, you can usually go to their profile and select it from a list of options - often labeled or identified with three dots ••• options. Take advantage of these features to blockBlock Blocking is a technical action usually on social media or messaging platforms that restricts or bans another profile from seeing or communicating with your profile. To block someone on social media, you can usually go to their profile and select it from a list of options - often labeled or identified with three dots ••• messages from unknown or suspicious sources, reducing the likelihood of receiving fraudulent messages.
- Report Suspicious Messages: If you receive a suspicious message, report it to your mobile service provider. They may have mechanisms in place to investigate and take action against fraudulent senders.
- Educate Yourself and Others: Stay informed about the latest scams, fraud techniques, and best practices for online safety. Share this knowledge with friends, family, and colleagues to raise awareness and help others avoid falling victim to SMS pumping fraud.
By adopting these preventive measures and staying vigilant, you can minimize the risk of becoming a victim of SMS pumping fraud and protect yourself from unauthorized charges and financial losses.
SMS Pumping Fraud on Websites & AppsApps Applications or Apps An application (software), commonly referred to as an ‘app’ is a program on a computer, tablet, mobile phone or device. Apps are designed for specific tasks, including checking the weather, accessing the internet, looking at photos, playing media, mobile banking, etc. Many apps can access the internet if needed and can be downloaded (used) either for a price or for free. Apps are a major point of vulnerability on all devices. Some are designed to be malicious, such as logging keystrokes or activity, and others can even transport malware. Always be careful about any app you are thinking about installing.
This is a relatively new menace for website owners and operators.
It works by allowing fraudsters to ambush website forms that generate SMS one-time passwords that you send for account access or making purchases. Though it can also attack password reset features that send an SMS message.
They target web forms or apps that have relatively low levels of security, allowing them to generate thousands of bogus SMS messages to phone numbers that they control and where they make a percentage of the telecom charges.
They make money by entering into a revenue-sharing agreement with a mobile network. Each OTP text (one-time password text) delivered gives them a small commission but if they do this on an industrial scale, then with little effort, huge revenues can be generated.
Some estimates suggest that SMS pumping fraud accounts for about 6% of all business SMS traffic as of 2022.
Twitter Suffers Massive SMS OTP Fraud
Elon Musk claims that Twitter lost $60 million dollars last year because 390 different telecom companies used bots to inflate A2P SMS.
“I discovered this, basically, about 10 days ago, that Twitter was being scammed to the tune of $60 million dollars a year for SMS texts, not counting North America.”
There have also been reports of some web owners losing tens of thousands of dollars in these toll-fraud attacks.
Avoiding SMS Pumping Fraud on Websites
If you are a website publisher that has such forms, features, or apps that generate SMS passwords there are some simple steps you can take to avoid being a victim of this scam and the costs it brings with it.
It’s the responsibility of the service owner to prevent or minimize abuse of their website web forms, not the hosting company. There’s only so much the SMS API can do to prevent this type of fraud.
Here are some reasonably easy and low-cost ways that you can reduce the risk of SMS pumping fraud.
- Disable sign-ups from countries where you don’t operate – take a robust stance and disable the ability for people to complete the form from any country where you don’t operate or where you know the country will be a minor part of your market.
- Use a country IP filter or blocker to block countries where you do not want business anyway.
- Set rate limits on the number of SMS that can be sent to any range of mobile numbers – restrict the number of texts that can be sent in a set number of minutes to certain number prefixes.
- The best solution is to disable text messaging altogether and force all such functions through email addresses which have no cost.
This might not completely resolve the problem but it should massively reduce it. This throttling approach and lack of throughput might deter the cybercriminal from attacking your website!
Detect And Discourage Bots
- Using CAPTCHAs can help deter bots. Try to create a little more friction in the signup process. This will be no issue for genuine customers but will create a hurdle for automated bots.
- Allow only one text to be sent to any mobile number – restrict the number of texts that a single mobile number can receive in any given time period.
- Monitor conversion rates. If the conversion rate of customers suddenly drops, but the number of SMS texts is high, this could be an indication of SMS pumping in action. You could consider setting alerts to trigger if conversion drops below expected or normal levels.
If you offer such features on your website or app it is essential that you take precautions since this type of attack can hit without warning and run up massive costs overnight!
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This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. counseling or therapy, qualified support groups, or completely independent – on your own!
The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.
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