PhonepayPlus, the UK’s premium rate telephone services regulator, has taken the sting out of malicious mobile apps that sent premium rate text messages. The malware attack, which was named RuFraud by security experts, involved fake versions of popular Android applications including Angry Birds, Assassins Creed and Cut the Rope.
Each of these supposedly free apps charged the user £15 - usually three £5 text messages - every time the application was opened. The app hid the text messages, which meant consumers only spotted the charges when they received a bill or checked their account.
The apps were downloaded around 14,000 times worldwide, affecting 1,391 mobile numbers in the UK. PhonepayPlus suspended the text code before any money reached the fraudsters, although customers had been charged £27,850. A tribunal has now imposed sanctions on the company that provided the text message service, ordering it to repay all money to UK consumers and pay a £50,000 fine.
Patrick Guthrie, Director of Strategy and Communications at PhonepayPlus, said “We will continue to clamp down on those who wish to take advantage of UK smartphone customers. We are very pleased that the tribunal ordered that everyone affected will get their money back and that a strong fine was imposed. The digital economy is vital to the UK’s future and we will continue to take action to maintain the confidence of the public.”