No Surprise: Scammers Focus On Tricking The French With False Three Strikes Infringement Notices

from the but-of-course dept

We’ve seen similar scams for a few years now, but with the French three strikes administrators, Hadopi, sending out 650,000 first strike notices, it should come as no surprise that the scammers have jumped in to try to take advantage of people. They’re sending notices to people pretending to be infringement notices from Hadopi. They ask people to click through to access their report. Following the link brings you to a cleverly faked Hadopi website, which asks for a registration code and provides the following instructions:

?To get the access code by SMS: Send CODE to 81083. For the confirmation code by SMS: send CODE to 81015. To get the access code by phone: call the following number: 0899 230 141. Confirmation code by phone: call the following number: 0899 230 148.?

And that’s where the scam part comes in. The numbers are apparently premium access numbers, meaning that sending those text messages will end up costing quite a bit. Pretty sneaky. Yet another example of the kind of collateral damage created when you set up systems that treat people as guilty without any hearing or trial. It leaves itself wide open for abuse from scammers.

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Comments on “No Surprise: Scammers Focus On Tricking The French With False Three Strikes Infringement Notices”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Why do numers surive for longer than a tiny bit of time?

What surprises me with these scams (making people call/sms to “premium” numbers) is: why do the numbers continue to stand? Shouldn’t it be relatively easy to, if not figure out who’s behind it (ok, that might be nontrivial), at least to stop the service?
In my country the press speculated that bacause the telcos running the numbers get a nice cut off what the scammers make (for providing the service), they are not too motivated to stop this.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Why do numers surive for longer than a tiny bit of time?

Because we are just a service provider that someone has used for wrong doing.

It should be easy to find out who is behind it, the money is paid to someone. But the telcos have no interest in having this revenue stream dry up. Besides you have the added bonus of being able to say the people who answered must be guilty of something if they thought the accusation was true and tried to pay it off.

In the US for a long time there was a scam called “cramming” where bad people would stuff a bunch of costly services onto your bill without your permission. They kept this going for a very long time, and the telcos seemed reluctant to just stop the ability of this to happen.

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: Re: Why do numers surive for longer than a tiny bit of time?

FWIW, We have a bad habit of accidentally putting our dog’s name (and our last name) on most forms where we think there is any reasonable chance of getting spammed or worse. One result is that our dog now gets more junk mail than we do.

This worked out especially well one time when we noticed that a new “service” had been showing up on our phone bill for several months. We called the telco to protest and they *insisted* that according to their records, ordered it and there was nothing they could do. We calmly replied that we knew with 100 percent certainty that the individual they claimed ordered it had not done so, and that we would gladly prove this in court (plus damages) if they did not immediately stop the service and refund all charges. They backed down right away and we got a full refund with no further questions asked.

While we were bemused by this event it is sad to consider that this doesn’t really help more vulnerable people who get get bullied by these telco-crammer “partnerships”, does it?


chillienet (profile) says:

Re: Why do numers surive for longer than a tiny bit of time?

From the linked article:
“The fake site has been taken down and the number has been blocked by the authorities, but will no doubt reappear on another compromised server with a new number in due course.”

It takes time before someone that gets caught in these type of things reports it to the authorities, it then takes a bit more time for the authorities to confirm it and shut it down. Who knows how many people will get sucked in before then, and then it is just a matter of rinse and repeat with a new batch of victims.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Why do numers surive for longer than a tiny bit of time?

Yup, I have to say I haven’t read TFA. (I was half-sleeping back when I wrote my comment.)

Thinking of this a bit more, it’s not a black-and-white situation: there probably is a whole spectrum of services using these numbers, from completely ok to shady to outright scams using these numbers. So it might be tough to decide in some cases if it’s still ok or not.

In fact I could see some similarities between pushing telcos to police over this and pushing ISPs (or other companies, like YouTube) to police over their users’ actions. Though it still feels a bit different: a scam seems worse to me than a “civil” copyright infringement.

But like in copyright infringement, deciding if given “service” is a scam or not might be blurry, so should anybody force telcos to do it?

Similarly, as some people argue ISPs have no motivation to crush on illegal filesharing because they make some money out of that, the same can be said about telcos and these “premium” numbers.

Still, something doesn’t sound right in this comparison… feel free to point it out.

Anyway, in the end it’s the law enforcement that should deal with that quickly and try to find and punish the scammers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: pirate masnick

Your bitterness and disappointment always make me smile. I see it as a positive thing. It shows me that those of us against the current copyright laws are indeed having an impact. The copyright maximialists are helpless and they know it. The only recourse they really have is to curse the heavens in disgust and post nonsense on blogs like this one. How can that not put a huge smile on the faces of everyone? 😀

Major says:

Re: Re: pirate masnick

To answer the question : The french’s “Partie Pirate” failed to get enough backer to get aknowledged as a party this year, better luck next one 🙂

Oh and by the way there is a funny tidbit people should know , the scam and the real mail are awfully similar in a way since if you delete the mail upfront, even if it was real as long as you do not reply to it they cannot move up to the next “Strike” since the law stipulate that it is only allowed to move to the next stage if the recipient of the mail actually read it.

Anonymous Hero says:

I’m really not surprised that this has popped up, but in all fairness, this sort of thing happens all the time, to all sorts of companies and government services. There are plenty of legitimate reasons that France’s three-strikes law should not have been put into place; it would be best if we could focus on those. Scams like this need to be addressed, but they are ultimately a sideshow that can detract from the law’s deeper problems.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Scams like this need to be addressed, but they are ultimately a sideshow that can detract from the law’s deeper problems.

I can’t agree there. To me it seems that one oth the worst aspects of th law (the fact that it creates a new para-legal process outside the normal rules) is intimately connected with the existence of these scams. The existence of the law creates uncertainty in the minds of scam victims, which the scammers are exploiting. In other words if you fixed the problems with the law the scams would not have arisen.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Spammers copying spammers

I was thinking the same thing, this is an opportunity for someone to very quickly build a new bot-net. With 650,000 notifications, and everyone knowing more will follow. It should be easy enough to email a link to a sizeable chunk of the France population and end up with a couple million enslaved machines.

Unintended consequences … you have got to love them.

Anonymous Coward says:

If Hadopi was about to stop these type of scams people would love to have censor laws in place.

Maybe the industry should use these as propaganda instead of focusing on their monopoly that sounds bad. look bad and nobody cares.

Now scammers trying to cheat others? Everybody would love a law that took everything from those people without due process or scrutiny, the politicians would then be able to step into the sun again.

Never mind that what empowered the crooks in the first place was laws made to protect special interests or that they would be stripping due process and start doing what they did with every other censor tool available just start labelling others criminals to justify it, but in this case they have something that the public also don’t like and can show it to everyone.

How many would buy into that line of thinking?
Given the child pornography paranoia I believe the numbers would be high.

Anonymous Coward says:

This reminds me of some scams I’ve heard of collection agencies pulling. Like pretending to be the police and saying they’re going to arrest you if you don’t pay off the debts you owe right away. That of course is illegal, but it’s quite profitable for unethical collection agencies willing to buy the debt for pennies on the dollar.

out_of_the_blue says:

Oh, that's low. /Pirates/ getting scammed.

Sure, maybe not everyone who calls is an actual /pirate/; it’s guilty conscience that prompts the call though, that makes them “wide open for abuse from scammers”. There’s a down side to pirating. As in the Bible: “the wicked flee when no man pursues”.

And of course Mike thinks that his acolyte pirates should suffer no consequence at all…

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Oh, that's low. /Pirates/ getting scammed.

It’s NOT a guilty conscience. It the fear of the bully that is larger and much more powerful than you. You hope all you lose is your lunch money.


If I was contacted by HADOPI and accused of stealing my first impulse would be to call them and get as much information I can to be used against them during a legal defense (or just to tell them “Come at me Bro” because I live in another country.) When I see something wrong on a bill, I tend to call the company immediately and let them know that there is a problem. I would certainly get hit by these scammers calling for more information, not because I have a guilty conscious.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Oh, that's low. /Pirates/ getting scammed.

Yes, of course. If you get a “legitimate” HADOPI letter, and you have done nothing wrong, then you can safely ignore it. Same thing if you get sued, or get a police order for your arrest. It’s not like you have to, you know, try to clear things up, just ignore stuff and everything will be a-ok.

I suppose that’s the argument you’re making. If the police come to arrest you, just say “I would prefer not to” and they will understand that the charges against you are false.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh, that's low. /Pirates/ getting scammed.

Except that when I’m being threatened with something I know I didn’t do, I still freak the hell out. Not because I think I ‘deserve it’ but because “WHAT THE FUCK?! HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET THAT IDEA?! WHAT?! WHAT?! WHAT THE FUCK?! I DON’T EVEN WHAT?! and perhaps in the modern day WHO THE HELL STOLE MY IDENTITY AND WHAT DID THEY DO WITH IT?!”

Confusion is a very potent emotion, much more so then fear.

Anonymous Coward says:

” Yet another example of the kind of collateral damage created when you set up systems that treat people as guilty without any hearing or trial. It leaves itself wide open for abuse from scammers.”

I could see this line coming from far, far away. It’s bullshit, but I could see it coming.

Mike, you are getting to the point of blaming the victim for getting raped. By your logic, it’s a bank’s fault for having an online banking option that scammers can use as a basis to steal your info by creating fake versions of it. Perhaps you would want to blame facebook or paypal for similar scams that used their name.

My email regularly features people trying to spoof famous sites for profit, usually to obtain your username and password so they can break in and steal your money. Are you going to blame the banks for this?

I know you hate the three strikes law. But geez, can you try to be a little less transparent on your hater mentality?

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You just equated copyright infringement with rape.

One of these causes considerable psychological trauma, the other may cause financial trauma. The fact that, in your opinion, the two are equal shows your disdain for something that many consider worse than the actual killing of a person. And you claim to be on the “right” side?

If you’re on the “right” side of this debate, I don’t want to be on the “right” side.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Nope, I did not in any way equate copyright infringement with rape. Nice mis-read, nice attempt to ignore the point. Are you really that stupid, or are you just trying hard to be a fucking asshole about it?

The point is only the “blame the victim” mentality. Replace “rape victim” with “victim of Nigeria Scam Mail” or “victim of credit card fraud” or “victim of a drunk driver”, and you get the same results. Like it or not, Hadopi isn’t to blame for this stuff, they are the victims of it as well.

If you can get your head out of your ass for a minute, maybe you can understand that basic idea.

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