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Cell Phone Message Scam: No, You Didn’t Win an iPad

Feb 27th, 2012

Last night I received a text message on my cell phone, informing me that I had been selected for a free iPad.
“…you have been selected for a free ipad. visit http://bit.ly/xou2um..”

All I had to do was visit the website in the message, enter my cell phone number to claim my iPad.

Sure.

Anybody who knows me is able to tell you two things:

1) I never “just” visit a link because a message, post, email or person tells me to.
2) I wouldn’t do it for an iPad.


Of course I know this is a scam, so I decided to look at what’s behind the website.

I ended up on this website: http://www.socialstatistic.com/ (There is NO Homepage. Trying to access the Homepage, results in an error.)

Just a field to enter my cell phone number, nothing else.

At the bottom of the screen it reads: “Prior to qualifying for your prize, you’ll be presented with optional third party offers. You do not need to complete these offers in order to receive your chance to get a prize.”

Hey! I thought I won already? You said I had been selected already!

I spotted 3 links at the very bottom (and some outdated Copyright information) and clicked on the microscopic “Terms” link, and found this lengthy “Terms & Conditions” page (PDF-download):

Section 1 reads:

1. Website Service and Billing Information
Normal carrier charges and taxes for downloading or messaging may apply to any Content you receive from WWW.SOCIALSTATISTIC.COM. “Content” means collectively, text alert messages available on the Website. Text messaging capability is required for all WWW.SOCIALSTATISTIC.COM services. Internetenabled handsets are required to download multimedia Content (e.g. ringtones, wallpapers, games, videos, etc.), but certain web-enabled handsets such as the iPhone, Pre, and Sidekick devices are NOT compatible with the multimedia Content provided by WWW.SOCIALSTATISTIC.COM.
(a) Subscription Service. By entering your cell phone number on the Website, you consent to receive a text message containing a PIN code. By entering the PIN code on the Website, you acknowledge you are subscribing to WWW.SOCIALSTATISTIC.COM’s text alert subscription service. Subscribing provides you with monthly alerts. WWW.SOCIALSTATISTIC.COM subscribers may cancel by texting STOP to any message they receive All plans are subject to WWW.SOCIALSTATISTIC.COM’s Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy, available on our Website. To get help, text HELP to the message you receive or contact Customer Care.
By registering for a subscription service, you authorize WWW.SOCIALSTATISTIC.COM to bill you through your mobile telephone carrier. Message and Data Rates May Apply. You confirm you are the owner of the phone or have permission of the owner to incur these charges. Do not enter your personal PIN Code unless you have read, understand and agree to these terms and conditions. Monthly Club subscriptions are billed the recurring applicable subscription fee each month until you cancel the subscription. Monthly subscribers are billed on a 30-day cycle, which begins on the first day you sign up for the subscription and ends 30 days thereafter (your “Billing Cycle”). Your mobile phone bill will be charged on the first day of each Billing Cycle. You agree that normal carrier charges (e.g. WAP, MMS, GPRS, and SMS) may apply. Unused monthly credits do not roll-over to the next monthÕs Billing Cycle. You agree that if any attempt to bill you for your subscription fails for any reason, including non-payment by you or errors on the part of your mobile telephone company, WWW.SOCIALSTATISTIC.COM reserves the right to re-bill you for any outstanding fees.

No where does it state HOW MUCH they charge for their “Subscription Service”. And who the heck is SOCIALSTATISTIC.COM anyways?

A quick check of the domain’s whois record shows this:

Shocker. Their domain registration is private.

Interestingly enough, the Whois record for the domain name the message claims to be coming from (admin@applecontests.com), is not set to private:

But their Homepage is non-existent, and only shows a Default Godaddy Page:

Both domain names seem to belong to someone in Canada.

Conclusion:

DON’T go the website.
DON’T enter you cell phone number.
DON’T enter any pin code. EVER.

Note: Apple’s official company name is Apple Inc (with a CAPITAL “I”). It’s a dead giveaway right there.
BTW, the message only says “Free Message”. It’s not.

Talk to your carrier if you did fall for it. Most likely they will remove these charges. But you have to do it fast – AT&T for example says they will only go back 30 days.

About the author:

Nina Khoury is a computer scientist, software engineer and online marketer. She taught at various universities for seven years and worked on projects for Fortune 500 companies including cisco, Intel and HP.

4 Responses to “Cell Phone Message Scam: No, You Didn’t Win an iPad”

  1. Mike Bowers says:

    thank you for the heads up and all the work you have done to keep simpletons like me out of trouble.
    mb

  2. Kawika says:

    Folks–please! ALWAYS take the trouble to report these scams to the FCC. It only takes a couple of minutes to fill out and submit the online form. Simply to to fcc.gov/complaints.
    Let’s get rid of these losers. They’re an insult to the human race.

  3. Jeane says:

    I always check for this kind of stuff. I won’t even open a web page. I just type in the begining and then scam and end up at your informative site. Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • Nina says:

      Jeane,
      that’s exactly why we put it here — because there’s too many scams out there!
      I wish everybody did what you are doing.

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