Verizon filed a lawsuit this week against a group of people who allegedly set up an elaborate scheme to dupe users into accepting premium text messages, and is offering refunds to customers who were affected.
Jason Hope and Wayne DeStefano, as well as three others who worked for the men, are named in the suit. Verizon claims they set up multiple companies in order to fly under the radar and set up schemes to charge users for text messages without proper authorization.
Their original company was named Cylon LLC, but Verizon caught onto them pretty quickly, realizing it was fraudulently sending premium texts, and shut down their access to Verizon customers.
But instead of just admitting defeat, the defendants allegedly set up new companies, using numerous box offices at UPS Stores as addresses, in order to avoid detection from Verizon.
There are numerous services that allow users to receive text messages with everything from news updates and weather info to jokes of the day and food recipes. Some of these are free to users, but others require users to pay a fee for each text. The fees are billed to the user's mobile account, and the mobile service provider pays part of the fee to the company. Any company that charges for texts has to make users aware of the charges and must get them to agree to those charges.
The scheme here involved getting users to type in their mobile phone numbers online. For example, if users entered a Google search for food recipes, they could come across a website asking them for their mobile number, saying they'd get recipes texted to them. The company would then enroll these numbers in a premium texting service, charging them for each text without their consent.
Verizon is now offering refunds to anyone who was charged illegitimately from the defendants in this case, and is looking to recover all those fees as part of the lawsuit.
So if you've noticed a charge on your bill that doesn't seem right, go to http://www.premiumsmsrefund.com to see if you can get a refund.