Tag: airtime

Source: MyBroadband

New evidence has revealed widespread airtime theft and fraudulent WASP subscriptions on Vodacom’s network, showing that the company failed to act decisively against the criminals.

The latest evidence follows an industry investigation which revealed airtime theft on a mass scale from Vodacom’s prepaid customers.

What sets the latest evidence apart is that it comes from a prominent company which uses machine-to-machine communications and IoT devices with prepaid SIMs from Vodacom.

It is therefore impossible for these SIMs to pro-actively subscribe to WASP services, which means this data provides conclusive evidence of fraudulent subscriptions and airtime theft.

The company’s chief executive, who asked to remain anonymous because of his relationship with Vodacom, told MyBroadband hundreds of their SIMs have been hit by airtime theft.

The company experienced theft on both brand-new SIMs and SIMs which have been in devices for years.

He said Vodacom refuses to acknowledge any problem and added that it is very difficult to get refunds for the stolen airtime.

Only around 5% to 10% of the airtime theft which they logged with Vodacom were refunded.

He said it requires considerable effort to get a refund, which is further complicated as it is impossible to approach Vodacom with a list of SIMs from which airtime was stolen.

“You need to phone in as a single prepaid customer and go through the motions of trying to convince them that the SIM is in a device with no human access,” he said.

“You have to hound them repeatedly to get the refund to be processed, and you often just give up after a while.”

The evidence further showed that the same WASPs continue to steal airtime from SIMs long after it was reported to Vodacom.

The data provided to MyBroadband stretches back for many months and conclusively proves:

  • There is widespread fraud and airtime theft on Vodacom’s network to this day.
  • Vodacom was made aware of this fraud and airtime theft, for a long time, but failed to act decisively.
  • The same companies continue to steal airtime from Vodacom’s subscribers.

How WhatsApp is killing calls in SA

A recent article by MyBroadband explored how the popularity of VoIP services like WhatsApp has impacted voice income for South African major mobile networks: Vodacom, MTN, Telkom and Cell C.

  • Vodacom has experienced a “slight decrease in the consumption of traditional voice minutes”, but said the advantages of traditional GSM calls still make it a good option for consumers.
  • MTN told MyBroadband that it has “experienced a decrease in traditional calls and an increase in VoIP usage to match”.
  • Cell C admitted they had noticed a decrease in the amount of traditional call minutes being used, but said that it had stabilised.
  • Telkom told MyBroadband that it had “not seen a decrease in the average minutes of use per user for both on and off-network calling”.

However, according to We are Social, “WhatsApp is the biggest messaging app … in South Africa. We have 38-million unique mobile users, which grew by two million between 2017 and 2018. ”

The high costs of data in South Africa prevent many users from using WhatsApp’s full capabilities.

MyBroadband has released an explosive report detailing how billions of rands worth of airtime has been stolen from mobile subscribers in South Africa, by rogue wireless application service providers (WASPs) who bill cellular subscribers’ accounts without their permission.

MyBroadband received this information from two industry insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to the report, subscribers are defenceless as “there is no way to proactively block WASP billing on their accounts”.

How it works

  • WASPs are able to bill mobile cellular users’ accounts, taking airtime for content subscription services
  • Rogue WASPs exploit the system to bill people’s accounts without their permission or knowledge
  • Users’ only defence is to regularly check their account and ask for a refund if their airtime was stolen
  • Unless the fraud is detected and a complaint is lodged, the money is gone forever
  • Both the rogue WASP and the mobile operator profit

According to MyBroadband, this has been happening for over a decade, and mobile operators are well aware of this problem.

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