Vodacom airtime theft – Over R1,000 stolen from a subscriber in a month

Rampant fraud and airtime theft continue on Vodacom’s network, leaving subscribers having to beg for their money back.

In the latest case reported to MyBroadband, a Vodacom subscriber was subscribed to multiple content services without his consent.

Shortly after he became aware of the fraudulent subscriptions on his account, he contacted Vodacom to dispute the charges.

He said Vodacom first tried to state that the unwanted subscriptions were his fault, with the operator saying he must have clicked on a banner or subscribed through the Vodacom app.

After he informed Vodacom that he does not use the Vodacom app or click on banners, they agreed to reverse the charges and block WASP billing on his number.

After the block was implemented on his number, he started to get a flood of messages similar to the one below (also see screenshots later in the article).

Your request for XXXXXXXXXXX content service was rejected due to the Content Block that is set on 2782XXXXXXX. Contact your Company Administrator.

“So, the block was working but somebody seemed to have set up an automated system to try to re-subscribe people every day to various content services,” he said.

It was not long before the rogue service providers on Vodacom’s network struck again – this time on his wife’s number.

Her number was fraudulently subscribed to multiple content services, which meant they had to once again battle to get content subscriptions blocked on this number.

“We have already called Vodacom twice in the last two months and asked them to reverse these charges and to put a complete block on the line for all content services,” he said.

“Despite our requests, the fraudulent billing just carries on from month to month.”

“We have never requested any of these content services, clicked on anything, or subscribed to anything,” he said. “Somebody is just adding us to all these services on a daily basis.”

This feedback brings Vodacom’s previous comment that it “seeks to ensure that affected customers are fully refunded on first contact with customer care” into question.

“We pass the large majority of credits to customers, if not for all queries, as our standard practice is to refund the customer first and then investigate the query later,” Vodacom claimed.

The Vodacom subscriber told MyBroadband that this was not his experience when dealing with the operator about airtime theft on their accounts.

Fraudulent billing

The accounts below show the airtime theft which occurred on the two Vodacom SIMs this year.

Most of the billing, the Vodacom subscriber said, occurred through Vodacom’s own “Charge To Bill” gateway.

Vodacom’s Charge To Bill API enables content providers to subscribe users to their services and bill them for the content.

Vodacom allows WASPs which are not Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) members to bill Vodacom clients using this gateway.

This means Vodacom subscribers are at the mercy of rogue WASPs which have been fraudulently subscribing and billing subscribers.

Surprisingly, there is virtually no risk for WASPs who steal money from Vodacom subscribers.

If they are caught committing fraud on Vodacom’s network, the worst that can happen is that they must refund a small percentage of the money they have stolen and they may get banned.

Many rogue WASPs have been operating for years, and they continue to steal airtime from Vodacom subscribers with impunity despite numerous complaints by subscribers.

MyBroadband contacted all the wireless application service providers (WASPs) listed in the accounts below for comment, but none of them responded by the time of publication.

Rejected WASP subscriptions

Vodacom responds

Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy told MyBroadband they are investigating the customer’s complaint and undertook to revert as soon as the process is completed.

He added that they pass the large majority of credits to customers, if not for all queries, as their standard practice is to refund the customer first and then investigate the query later.

“It is regrettable that this process was not followed in this instance. We will remedy the matter as speedily as possible and apologise to the customer for the inconvenience this has caused,” he said.

Kennedy said they are in the process of implementing a number of measures, including:

  • Enhanced double opt-in journeys and processes for all Vodacom owned and branded services, as well as all Third-Party Content Subscription Services, resulting in even clearer billing.
  • Vodacom will send additional subscription reminder messages to all customers subscribed to content services, periodically according to the type of subscription.
  • Vodacom will require all third-party providers of content subscription services, to become members of WASPA.

Now read: Vodacom prepaid customers hit by airtime theft

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Vodacom airtime theft – Over R1,000 stolen from a subscriber in a month