Unsolicited SMSs

The other day I received, what I consider, a spam SMS. Generally I would have just ignored it and carried on my with life, but not now. Not during exams, when I have time to do something about it.

The message was a general SMS here to receive XYZ, SMS stop to unsubscribe.

So I searched a bit for the numbers in the SMS but never came up with anything. Further searches relating to spam messages returned information on WASPA (Wireless Application Service Provider’s Association). They’re kind of like the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of bulk mail. But apart from a list of registered and affiliated parties, didn’t help much.

waspa.org.za

I also came across DMASA (Direct Marketing Association of South Africa). They have an opt-out service which requires all DMASA members to check through this list before contacting you with messages (register here). If your names on the list, they won’t contact you [1]. This is great, but not what I wanted. I wanted to know who had contacted me and why they thought they could. So I searched further.

Eventually I came across this website. It’s linked to WASPA and allows you to search a number in their database. Searching for SMS number returned Cael Media. A bulk-sms service company. I sent them a message requesting information on where they got my number.

I received a very fast reply from an employee asking for my phone number and assuring me I’ll be removed from their database and that I’d be provided with the information I requested the following day.

The one great thing is that WASPA take their job very seriously, and it appears that most bulk messaging companies are scared of stepping out of the WASPA code of conduct.

I got a heartfelt reply from Cael indicating that they’ve actually only just been WASPA accredited and are having some technical issues with their application. They offered me a refund on any expenses I may have incurred to settle the issue. I hadn’t incurred any costs, thanked them for the offer but re-stated that all I wanted was to know how they got my number.

A few days went by without any reply, so I sent an other email to them. I got a reply telling me they had got my details from Blackmoon Investments which allowed them to market to my mobile number. I haven’t been able to find out anything about Blackmoon investments, and further enquiries with Cael Media have been fruitless.

I also spoke with a friend about the situation and he showed me some communication relating to a similar issue he had had. After investigation and laying a complaint with WASPA, the company eventually revealed where they got his information. It had been bought from an overseas company. The cost of 5 million active emails and 6 million contact numbers came to $1000. Effectively R0.0007 per detail.

While I was busy on my mini-crusade, I figured I’d give Agrimark a piece of my mind as well. Since Christmas last year I had been receiving promotional SMSs from a British telephone number with specials at Agrimark. This makes matters slightly difficult, as the foreign number indicates that they are most likely not WASPA affiliated. The only email addresses I could find on their website were their branch managers, so I typed up an email to Agrimark Stellenbosch’s branch manager, basically asking to be removed from the list, and also enquiring where they got my info.

I received a very prompt, and very curt reply the next day telling me I’d been removed from the mailing list.

I replied thanking him for removing me, but that I still wanted to know where they got my number or who manages their bulk mail service. I never received a further reply.

[1] Note on the opt-out list. It’s managed by the DMASA. Some people don’t like the idea of giving their details to the very organisation which effectively manages direct marketing. Furthermore, adding your details to the list entails ID numbers, residential addresses, telephone numbers the whole lot. As a friend pointed out, you could have some fun at the bank with these details. And the big issue here is that the database was allegedly leaked, putting 39 000 people at risk of identity theft.

10 thoughts on “Unsolicited SMSs

  1. Hi Garth
    I just came across your blog while searching on Google for any info about a company called Cael Media. That is when I came across your blog post about unsolicited sms’s on 19th November (http://blog.gcawood.com/tag/spam/). You see yesterday I discovered to my horror that I have been subscribed to some cellphone subscription services without my knowledge. It has fraud written all over it as I have never ever (and would never) subscribe to rubbish sms services and my phone never leaves my side so it couldn’t have been someone else. After enquiring with MTN they could give me the dates and times I “subscribed” (interestingly all times when I was very busy with specific things as recorded in my diary) and the names of the companies with you the subscription is linked. The ons is called “Victorious Technologies” and the other is “Cael Media”. I managed to get hold of VT but have had no luck with Cael Media. Their website gives no contact details and there is no answer at the cell number that MTN gave me (which is the same one listed on the WASPA site) – in fact it goes through to a voicemail lite system – as if a real company would use voicemail lite! I saw in your post you mentioned that you had email contact with Cael. Please could you provide me with their email address and any other contact details you might have?

    I am now the 3rd in my group of contacts to whom this has happened and it is a downright crime the way these companies are stealing people’s money. Not only do they not adhere to WASPA’s code of conduct (albeit members and affiliates thereof) but to this day I have received no such subscription content – and this being 6 months into my so called “subscription”.

    Sorry for my venting – I’m just so angry with them and plan to use whatever means and ways that I can to stop this.

    Thanks for any assistance you can give me.

    Kind regards,
    Laura

    • Hey Laura

      I used the contact form on Cael Media’s website here but I’ll send you an email with one of the guys who contacted me’s details.

      They were very quick to apologise and remove me from their lists, so I hope you have equal success. It’s quite appalling what they get away with, and I probably gave up earlier than I should have, as I’ve not been able to find any information on the company where they allegdly got my number.

      Regards

      Gareth

  2. Hi Gareth
    I am expriencing the same problem with the company called CAEL MEDIA.
    please could you supply me with a contact number for this company, these guys are deducting money from me for a service i did not request,
    please help me thank you

    • Hi Rommel

      As mentioned you can try the form on their website, else I’ll send you an email with one of their employees email address.

  3. Hi Gareth.
    I have the same problem as you with regards to Cael Media and their website is Unaccessible at the moment?
    Please would you forward me the e-mail address that you have so that I can cancel this “subscription”

    Kind regards,
    Brent

  4. I have officially lodged a complaint against them on WASPA site. They are going completely against WASPA code of conduct. This all helps build the case. They were taking R2.00 off my daughters aitime multiple times per day listed as “Content ‘Lucky_333’ from CAEL MEDIA” .. when I called they said that they would email me that it’s not coming from them.

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