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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday March 25 2014, @05:48PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the so-simple-an-idiot-could-do-it dept.

lhsi writes:

"It has been discovered that some people have been accidentally donating money to a different charity than they intended by using the wrong SMS keyword. In the last few days, a lot of donations have been made to the Cancer Research UK charity, however some have accidentally been made to Unicef instead where mobile users sent a text with the message "DONATE" instead of "BEAT" to a specific shortcode.

Unicef has said, "We contacted Cancer Research [UK] as soon as we became aware of what was happening. Unicef and Cancer Research [UK] have agreed that these donations will be received in full by Cancer Research [UK]."

Even knowing which word to use didn't help some people as their smartphone auto-corrected "BEAT" to "BEAR", and they were subsequently sent information about adopting a polar bear from the WWF."

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by DBCubix on Tuesday March 25 2014, @05:58PM

    by DBCubix (553) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 25 2014, @05:58PM (#21091)

    Who needs a doberman when you have a polar bear!

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by EvilSS on Tuesday March 25 2014, @05:59PM

    by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 25 2014, @05:59PM (#21092)

    So, um, be more careful next time?
     
    Is this some sort of "slow news day" feature test or something?

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by GungnirSniper on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:09PM

      by GungnirSniper (1671) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:09PM (#21096) Journal

      If it can happen accidentally, scammers will find a way to take advantage. From Yahoo: [yahoo.com]

      In less than two months after Hurricane Katrina, federal and state officials discovered scams such as a self-proclaimed white supremacist had set up fake online "charities" such as "neworleanscharities.com" allegedly to aid Katrina victims.

      It's not quite the same, but similar to registering a scam SMS code to steal from a real charity.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by isostatic on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:13PM

      by isostatic (365) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:13PM (#21099) Journal

      Have you submitted something better today?

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by EvilSS on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:31PM

        by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:31PM (#21107)

        Well I do have this doozie of an article on how people sometimes send the wrong check to the wrong utility.

      • (Score: 3) by Lagg on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:40PM

        by Lagg (105) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:40PM (#21114) Homepage Journal
        This needs repeating. Yes it sounds like a smartass comment but it's not. If you want the site to give better articles. Send them.
        --
        http://lagg.me [lagg.me] 🗿
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by MrGuy on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:35PM

    by MrGuy (1007) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:35PM (#21110)

    Typo-squatting was a real way to scam people and/or steal information until companies realized it was happening, and then they wised up and started owning likely typos themselves.

    Same deal here. You need two typo-capable pieces of info - a short code and a text string. It's totally easy to squat on one or the other. Heck, other charities are doing it BY ACCIDENT ("Beat" vs. "Bear"). Of course scammers will get into this game.

    I get the desire for immediacy, but donating via short code seems inherently prone to this sort of abuse. Too few codes, too much overlap, not enough user confirmation. It's a bad design, and if it's broken for well meaning folks, who can doubt scammers are on there.

    That said, there are a few obvious practices to make this work better. Never, ever let anyone own the word "DONATE" on a shared code (similarly "PURCHASE" or "BUY" or any other non-usage-specific string). Require a certain number of characters to donate (POLAR BEAR, not just BEAR). Sorry, dumb phone crowd. Require distance - no one's code is one letter away from another working code.

    But really, a way to deliver real money via SMS is and always has been a terrible idea. Don't use your cell phone bill as a mobile wallet.

    • (Score: 1) by lothmordor on Tuesday March 25 2014, @08:10PM

      by lothmordor (1522) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @08:10PM (#21164)

      I agree, sending money this way is a terrible idea. Cell phone service providers should do only that: provide a cellular network interface connection and route the data. They shouldn't be acting as a payment processor for third parties, and should probably be legally barred from doing so.

      Cell phone and internet providers are utilities. They should be heavily regulated as such.

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Adrian Harvey on Tuesday March 25 2014, @09:53PM

        by Adrian Harvey (222) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @09:53PM (#21201)

        You may not be aware of this, but in many African countries the mobile phone providers allow both transfer and withdrawal of pre-pay credit. In so doing they have effectively become a bank, but one that is accessible to everyone (with a cellphone). They are used all the time for transfers of small amounts of money (like send the wife 50c for the bus fare - you transfer the credit to her number and she withdraws it from the same places you can top-up). They provide an service that is absolutely vital in allowing economic growth among the poorer members of society by easing the transfer of money and allowing smaller enterprises to function. In many ways filling the niche that Internet banking and debit cards do in developed countries.

        So this small amount of payment processing is just minuscule compared international norms....

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by rts008 on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:41PM

    by rts008 (3001) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:41PM (#21116)

    This strikes me as extremely funny.

    Yes, 'smart phones', and their 'smart users'. LOL!
    Better entertainment than Looney Tunes!

    Just remember folks, when you make a donation and accidentally adopt a bear, make sure you keep it well fed!!

    • (Score: 1) by Bot on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:21PM

      by Bot (3902) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:21PM (#21134) Journal

      > when you make a donation and accidentally adopt a bear, make sure you keep it well fed!!

      I see no problem, fact: humans are edible. I like also fact: circuits are not.

      --
      Account abandoned.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Daiv on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:47PM

    by Daiv (3940) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:47PM (#21154)

    SMS seems like a weird way to donate. If I'm sending my money somewhere, I take the time to pull up a web page and make sure it's legit. The people who can afford to donate by sending an SMS have to be a large cross section of people with smartphones. Smartphones that can pull up proper websites and donate that way.

    If you're going to partake in SMS donations, double check your input or accept if your money went somewhere else, it's your fault.

  • (Score: 1) by iWantToKeepAnon on Tuesday March 25 2014, @08:46PM

    by iWantToKeepAnon (686) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 25 2014, @08:46PM (#21181) Homepage Journal

    mobile users sent a text with the message "DONATE" instead of "BEAT" to a specific shortcode

    I can understand BEAR/BEAT ... but DONATE/BEAT ... what's the catch? That's NOT a misspelling!

    --
    "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." -- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    • (Score: 2) by wantkitteh on Wednesday March 26 2014, @09:14AM

      by wantkitteh (3362) on Wednesday March 26 2014, @09:14AM (#21405) Homepage Journal

      More importantly, WHICH phone model(s) / OS(s) contain an autocorrect feature that changes correctly spelled words?

      I have a Nokia Lumia 720 running Windows Phone 8.0 - no BEAT > BEAR bug here. Anyone else feel like checking?

      DONATE/BEAT is a user fail.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Dutchster on Wednesday March 26 2014, @12:26AM

    by Dutchster (3331) on Wednesday March 26 2014, @12:26AM (#21250)

    The (somewhat) well known practice of typosquatting toll free numbers of major companies. Heck, there's an entire cottage industry devoted to it.

    Some are merely trying to capture business that would have gone to a competitor. Others are more nefarious; have you ever tried to ring up your bank and are greeted by an anonymous voice saying "we're sorry for the extended delay, as our gift to you we're offering a $100 WalMart gift card, all you have to do is pay the $4.95 shipping?" It's not your bank's phone systems being hacked - it's typosquatters with a very similar telephone number. They seem to skirt by because they never actually claim to be your bank, so there's no brand misrepresentation going on. The fact that your credit card number is misused a month later is merely a coincidence.

    Dial carefully!