Beware of Late Late Toy Show SMS scam – UK cyber thieves target Irish consumers

28 Nov 2012

Late Late Toy Show host Ryan Tubridy

Consumers in Ireland are being alerted to a premium rate number scam by UK cyber-criminals, whereby unsuspecting punters are being manipulated into believing they have won tickets to the popular Late Late Toy Show on RTÉ, Ireland’s national TV station.

Irish cyber sleuth and threat adviser Paul C Dwyer uncovered the plot to hoodwink consumers, many of whom will have children and are already warily watching the bills in advance of next week’s Budget.

A recent investigation by Dwyer into the activities of a UK-based cyber crime gang led to the plot being discovered.

The gang are clearly aware that the Late Late Toy Show is something of an institution in Ireland and for many families it marks the start of the Christmas season.

Tickets are coveted and only those who are very lucky or know someone important at RTÉ can get a pair. They cannot be bought.

UK crime gang targets unsuspecting Irish consumers with SMS scam

The crime gang is using a tactic known as ‘smishing’, whereby consumers receive an SMS on their phones telling them they won tickets.

There are two messages planned for use. One message says “Congratulations you have won two tickets to the Late Late Toy Show, call xxxxxxxx to claim your tickets now.”

The number is a premium rate number costing a min of €2.50 to call.

The second variant was a redirect (a link to) a site on which you register to claim the tickets and enter your payment details to pay a charge of €20 to cover courier fees for the tickets.

“The plan was to send close to 2m text messages,” Dwyer revealed in his blog.

“The bottom line is it was quite an unsophisticated plan. The surprise is the size and ambition of the plan.

“The criminals current charge rates of stg£4,000 to verify 1m mobile numbers and between stg£25,000 and stg£30,000 to send 1m text messages.

“These guys are planning a series of attacks over the comings weeks,” O’Dwyer warned.

He urged people to share this information far and wide to help dilute its effect.

“My advice,” said O’Dwyer, “is to ignore the SMS message and enjoy the Late Late Toy Show.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years