Beware WASP sign-ups when using an LTE router

A MyBroadband reader recently reported a WASP problem on MTN’s network, where he was signed up to a content service without his permission.

The MTN customer has a 30GB contract and uses his SIM card exclusively in a portable LTE router.

The SMS log and data balance of the SIM can be viewed and interacted with through a companion app on a smartphone or desktop.

When the reader decided to check their data balance on 22 January 2020, they noticed two SMSs that were received at around the same time on 17 January 2020.

The first read as follows:

Y’ello. Thank you for subscribing to MTN Gamer+ MoFun at R3.03/day or a lesser amount. 1st day is Free. Visit now To cancel dial *155#. Call 135 for help. Ts&Cs

The second message read confirmed the registration:

Y’ello. You have been successfully registered with MTN Gamer+. Your account username is [Redacted] and your password is [Redacted].

WASP problems

The customer quickly realised that he had been subscribed to a WASP (Wireless Application Service Provider), which he assumed was racking up a substantial bill on his account.

He unsubscribed from the service and removed the SIM from the router before contacting MTN to seek a refund for the charges.

The support agent the reader spoke to confirmed the subscription and stated that they must have clicked on a link in a website that activated the subscription.

The SIM card was used in a router exclusively, however, and the support staff said they could not explain how the subscription was made.

According to the reader, he was driving through the Karoo at the time of the subscription and would not have been in a position to opt into a WASP service.

He also did not receive an opt-in SMS for confirmation of the subscription. Instead, he only received an SMS notifying him that he was subscribed.

The reader added that none of his family who connects to the portable router has any interest in gaming, and they are therefore unlikely to sign up to a R3-per-day gaming service.

Treating Customers Fairly

MTN has had problems with WASP fraud in the past, with a number of customers reporting fraudulent WASP subscriptions.

Similar to the case above, many customers also reported being signed up to MTN-branded content services without their permission.

The mobile operator did move to crack down on this type of fraud, however, implementing additional countermeasures and in-depth checks at the end of last year.

MTN also implemented the second phase of its Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) policy, which aims to mitigate up to 95% of fraudulent WASP subscriptions using artificial intelligence.

MyBroadband reached out to MTN regarding the case outlined above.

MTN responds

MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that it has investigated this issue and found that its opt-in process was followed.

“We have investigated this matter and have established that the MSISDN number in question was subscribed to MTN Gamer+ on the 17th January 2020 and unsubscribed on the 22nd of January 2020,” she said.

“The opt-in process was followed and logs for the double opt-in verification are available.”

O’Sullivan also said that there were no content charges on record, as the customer’s number was never billed for the service.

“There is reason to believe that due to the customer’s number being in a Wi-Fi router or being used as a Wi-Fi hotspot, all other users that connect to this hotspot when browsing the Internet and attempting to subscribe to any service, will unfortunately not subscribe the service in their individual mobile device or mobile number but rather the WiFi number.”

When subscribing to web-based services, the number with the main Internet connection (the SIM in the router or hotspot) is seen as the requestor for the subscription.

“We believe that another device that was connected to the internet via the hot-spotting from the MSISDN in question may have been used to click on the Gamer+ banner advert,” O’Sullivan said.

MTN said that its Gamer+ service is a game store optimised for mobile users that is accessible via WAP and a mobile app.

“Subscribers on any network can access the Gamer+ WAP site or download the Gamer+ application and browse available games that are compatible with their handsets,” MTN said.

Now read: MTN suspends service provider for alleged battery theft

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Beware WASP sign-ups when using an LTE router