Korean regulators on Thursday fined domestic mobile phone manufacturers and carriers 45.3 billion won (roughly $40.2 million) for price-fixing and consumer fraud. According to the Fair Trade Commission, the companies secretly agreed to inflate the prices of cell phones while advertising offers with considerable incentives. The companies’ actions apparently tricked consumers into thinking they were buying a new phone for a bargain. “Companies took advantage of the complicated price setting practice in the mobile telecommunications sector to trick consumers,” an FTC official said. The Korea Times reported that Samsung, LG, Pantech, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus have all been find for their role in the scheme. In addition to the fine, the companies have been ordered to release information concerning the incentives they offered consumers, and they have been banned from offering such incentives in the future. SK Telecom was given the largest fine of 20.2 billion won, followed by Samsung with 14.2 billion won and KT at 5.1 billion won. More →
Funny, usually it’s the carriers doing the robbing. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, eight men were indicted yesterday for allegedly using customer data to swindle AT&T and T-Mobile USA out of roughly $22 million worth of cell phones. Two former cell phone shop owners from Brooklyn, NY and six others have been formally charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft surrounding the scam. The men reportedly used dealer access to the carriers’ systems in order to obtain customer data, and then used the identities of said customers to obtain handsets without paying for them. If convicted, the perpetrators face up to 20 years in prison on the conspiracy charge alone. Key takeaway: if the recession has hit your cell phone shop hard, it’s probably a good idea to seek out a new line of work rather than exploiting your customers and scamming your suppliers. Just saying.
A recent rumor of a Gmail security vulnerability that reportedly led to people having their domains hijacked was proven to be false on Wednesday. The rumor claims that a flaw in Gmail allowed unauthorized users to access a user’s Gmail account and create a forwarding filter without their knowledge; effectively stealing all incoming email. The flaw, reported by Geek Condition, was brought to light on Sunday with several Gmail users complaining that their domain names were hijacked because of this vulnerability. Google launched their own investigation and announced on Wednesday that a Gmail security was not to blame. Rather, the people who reported hijacked domains were the victims of an elaborate phishing scam. The hackers sent emails to web domain owners encouraging them to visit fraudulent websites such as google-hosts.com whose sole purpose was to steal Gmail usernames and passwords. Once obtained, the usernames and passwords were used to create forwarding filters in compromised Gmail accounts and the information from the forwarded emails was then used to hijack the domains. Whew, Google dodged the bullet on that one and all Gmail users can rest easy now knowing that the reported Gmail security vulnerability is non-existent.
This rumor has been floating around since May 2007 when Pirate Bay’s own Brokep announced that Pirate Bay would launch a video streaming website (videobay.org) much like YouTube but without all the censorship. That website never came to fruition. This rumor reared its ugly head again today when an article on TechCrunch said The Pirate Bay was again trying to launch a video streaming service. It referred readers to a blog post that was supposed to have mentioned the video streaming service in a Happy Birthday message to Pirate Bay co-founder Brokep. The reference to the streaming video service supposedly appeared and disappeared in a flash. The tip also sends users to a website: “www.thepiratecity.org”. A little domain sleuthing shows that the domain is registered to Protect Details, Inc in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Hmm, that is unusual since the original PirateBay (piratebay.org) and videobay.org is registered to Fredrik Neij (one of the co-founders of Pirate Bay) of Stockholm, Sweden. The other unusual bit of information is that the server for the alleged new video streaming service is located in the United Kingdom (at least according to its IP address). Now why in the world would Pirate Bay launch an questionably legal (read illegal) video streaming service from servers in the United Kingdom? Looks like TechCrunch got a little misinformation yesterday morning. We sure hope that visitors who clicked on the link to piratecity.org had some good anti-virus and spyware software running. Duh-oh!