AT&T and Sprint have suspended Jawa’s premium SMS codes to investigate allegations of widespread text message fraud from Verizon Wireless and the Texas Attorney General.
The two carriers are looking into whether their customers are affected by the premium SMS scam that Verizon identified in its suit.
A spokesman for AT&T said the company has retained a “nationally recognized” team of cyber fraud experts to investigate Verizon’s allegations against Jawa.
“Jawa has agreed to cooperate by allowing these independent investigators full access to data and records,” he said. “In the interim, we have suspended the short codes identified in the complaint, and have identified and suspended additional related short codes.”
Sprint has taken similar measures. “Sprint suspended certain premium short codes earlier this month to provide an opportunity for obtaining additional information in light of questions that have emerged,” a company spokesman said.
Sprint is encouraging its customers to review their bills regularly and contact customer service if they find suspicious charges that they did not authorize.
Jawa is fighting Verizon’s lawsuit and has filed a counterclaim alleging that Verizon is trying to damage its reputation and put it out of business. A Jawa spokesman claimed that Verizon filed the suit in an attempt to put the small premium SMS company out of business so that Verizon can expand its own share of the market, a charge Verizon denies.
In its countersuit, Jawa said Verizon and its aggregators are withholding about $19 million in charges for premium messaging services Jawa already provided. Jawa says it has sold $75 million worth of premium SMS services to Verizon’s customers over the past 12 months.
Verizon and the Texas Attorney General said in separately filed complaints that a ring of more than 20 companies associated with Jawa duped customers into unwittingly signing up for premium SMS services with hidden charges. The services allegedly violated Verizon’s own internal rules for premium SMS services and best practice guidelines from the Mobile Marketing Association.
The suits claim that Jawa used cloaking software to hide the scam from Verizon Wireless and its auditor, Aegis Mobile. The software redirected Aegis to websites compliant with Verizon’s consumer protection and disclosure policies.
An Arizona judge ruled against both Verizon and Jawa at a mid-March hearing over the issue, denying Verizon’s request for a temporary restraining order and Jawa’s request for an order forcing Verizon to do business with it.
The Texas Attorney General’s office had no comment about Jawa’s claims of innocence. A temporary injunction hearing for the Texas case is set for April 6.
Verizon customers who believe they’re a victim of premium SMS fraud can submit a claim at www.premiumsmsrefunds.com, which provides the names of fraudulent premium SMS campaigns and associated short codes that have been identified by Verizon Wireless.
Filed Under: Industry regulations