Update – 26th December 2019
It looks as though the loophole that allowed this scam to bypass the additional checks introduced in May has finally been closed. Only a handful of complaints about Wapstar have been received since mid-November.
However, the attitude of GaffGaff in particular has been appalling. There have been numerous complaints:
Despite promises from GiffGaff staff to assist, members tell me that they have been given no help whatsoever. It seems that GiffGaff have insisted that the rules they introduced in May have been followed, but have not produced evidence of this in any of the cases.
Wapstar is a well known Payforit scam which has been reported many times on the GiffGaff and O2 forums and on Twitter. In recent months almost all complaints about Payforit scams on O2 and GiffGaff have concerned this “service”. It is clear that they have found a way of circumventing the protections introduced in May this year by O2 and GiffGaff.
It is despicable and negligent that O2 and GiffGaff “turn a blind eye” to this obvious fraud that they are facilitating (presumably because of their 30% cut of the fraudulent charges!). The company behind this scam are Remote Games Ltd, who have previously been fined £70,000 with £15,000 costs by the regulator for operating similar scams. https://psauthority.org.uk/for-business/adjudications/2015/2/remote-games-ltd-18639-adjudication-by-consent-adaf414e-59a1-e411-a529-00155d051116
Your first step should be to stop further charges. You can do this by sending a STOP message to 83463 (which will cost about 12p) or by ringing 0330 053 5841 during working hours Mon-Fri. This number is a standard rate number included in GiffGaff goodybags and O2 bundles.
Once you have stopped the charges you should insist on a FULL refund from Remote Games Ltd. Best to use email for this if possible as it will provide you with evidence that you “have discussed you dispute with the seller” as required by the Payforit rules. If you are dissatisfied at this point you can escalate the dispute to O2 or GiffGaff who really ought to be doing some work for their share of the proceeds of these despicable scams.
When dealing with the scammers, if they refuse a refund, saying that you consented to the charges, ask for:
- Screenshots of the subscription workflow where you were alleged to have signed up for this service.
- A description of what the service you are supposed to have subscribed to provides? Is this a newsletter, access to a web portal?
- Any evidence that after supposedly signing up for the service, you actually used it
- The complete web server log of the subscription, including the User Agent strings containing all device details (browser, device type, device IP address) together with dates and times.
- If the subscription started after 11th May 2019, auditable proof of the additional authentication used (as required to comply with O2/GiffGaff rules)
- Full company details of the company operating the service, country of registration, full name of company, company number and registered company address.
- Details of the Accredited Payment Intermediary(API) which handled the payment
- Details of the company’s disputes procedure, including any ADR scheme you can refer the matter to if they fail to provide a full refund.
That GiffGaff and O2 continue to cooperate with companies that are proven scammers is little short of a disgrace. However the law is on the consumer’s side. It is for the scammers to prove that you consented to the charges and NOT for you to prove that you didn’t. Ultimately, as Remote Games are a UK based company, you can use the Small Claims procedure to recover your money.
You need to be aware that when you use mobile data to access the internet, GiffGaff and O2 leak your number to “trusted third parties”. These companies are then allowed to make charges to your account without providing any evidence that the charge is lawful. If you have an O2 account these charges are applied directly to your account and O2 will refuse to reverse them (or to provide any evidence that they are lawful!). O2 will allow you to place a “charge to mobile” bar on your account which is effective at blocking Payforit charges. If you are with GiffGaff, the charges are taken from your airtime credit. If you have no airtime credit the charges cannot be taken. GiffGaff offer no other mechanism, so any airtime credit will always be vulnerable to this form of fraud.
Wapstar Phone number: 0330 053 5841
Wapstar Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Service Operated by: Remote Games Ltd
PO Box 5501
Payments processed by Tap2Bill:
Phone No: 0333 003 0599
5 St. John’s Lane