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Ferris calls for action against 'high tech larceny'

1 December, 2006


Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris has called for the Government to take immediate action against a telecom company which is sending people unsolicited premium rate mobile phone text messages, which are charged to the recipient without their consent or knowledge. Deputy Ferris was responding to complaints he had received regarding texts being sent from lines operated by Opera Telecom.

The Kerry North TD said: "I have submitted a series of questions to the Minister regarding this issue and I believe that there are substantial grounds for taking action against this company. In 2005 Opera Telecom was fined £175,000 in Britain for operating similar scams and yet it would appear that they are allowed to do so here. Indeed, their website claims that they are a 'partner' of Vodafone, many of whose customers have fallen victim to this operation. Opera Telecom is believed to be worth £100m.

"My attention has been drawn to text messages which claim that the recipient has been given free credit or been entered for a draw. The unwitting victim generally deletes the message unaware that the original text is subject to a reverse charge. This, in my opinion, is little more than high tech larceny and is a practice that must be subject to the full rigours of the law in view of the huge amount of money being made by such shady operations.

"I would also urge anyone who is in receipt of such messages -- which generally originate from a five digit number beginning with the numeral 5 should text 'STOP' to the number to ensure that it ceases but also that they make a complaint to the telecom regulator."

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