Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

sms.ac and spam

Via Boing Boing is a cease and desist letter sent to Joi Ito from sms.ac, a site that allows you to send free text (SMS) messages. The letter relates to an earlier entry where Joi apologised for spamming his friends with sms.ac invites – during the signup process for a new account, sms.ac asks for your MSN Messenger screen name, and then proceeds to send an email to everyone on your contact list. This is what Joi, and indeed I, would call spam. In any case, sms.ac don’t seem to like this and so have ordered Joi to remove his comments and any references to the site from his blog. This might have something to do with the fact that Joi’s entry shows up as the fourth result on Google for ‘sms.ac’, right behind a similar entry from Russell Beattie.
In fact, the whole of the first page is full of people describing sms.ac as a scam, including entries from Community Mobilization, Rip Off Report, Unleaded Online and Bjarni R. Einarsson. If sms.ac are serious about their legal action, they have a lot of letters to send out.
I’ve had at least 3 emails to me triggered by my friends joining the service, but haven’t yet bothered to follow them up. Now I’m definitely not going to bother. Congratulations, sms.ac, you’ve just lost yourself a potential customer.
To close, here’s a quote from the Unleaded Online article:

Funnily enough if you rearrange the letters [of sms.ac] you get ‘SCAMS’.

11 Comments

  1. The best part is this part of their terms and conditions:

    Note on unsolicited advertising and spam: SMS.ac policy on using our communication system to market to our users mandates that:

    • The sender of any message deemed to be “spam”, “marketing” or “mail bombing” to any other user or users will be liable for $100 for each account/user that receives each unauthorized message, commercial (promoting services of a commercial entity) or not.
    • The sender will pay all fees owed to SMS.ac within thirty (30) days of such transmission. Note: this means that if a message like the one described above is sent to a club of 300 users, or to one user 300 times, then you will be liable for $30,000, payable to SMS.ac, within 30 days.

    How about they abide by that themselves, eh?
    Interestingly enough, I can’t find any mention in the T&C that they might do that themselves. Does this mean that they didn’t agree?

  2. I finally managed to close my account with them after getting annoying “let’s cyber”-type e-mails from one very persistent fellow. I had signed up when a friend from high school, who I haven’t seen and have barely spoken to in seven years, asked me to join as her friend. It didn’t occur to me that she might have been a victim of the same unwitting mass marketing – perhaps I was on her contact list, too.

  3. So does all this mean sms ac is not breaking the law with this scam?! I found a month after my friend’s ‘sms buddy’ email that all my contacts had 3 spam email messages from me! I thought phishing must be involved: even if I’d accidently authorised emails to contacts the 1st time (which I didn’t), I certainly didn’t the 2nd and 3rd time. Isn’t this very illegal – account fraud? They should really go down for this. And what I love even more is that I tried to contact them to complain via the website, and you have to be member to do it! I didn’t even join up before my contacts were nicked.

  4. This information is freely available on the internet…
    Do what you will with it..
    “XXXXXXXXX has invited you to join XXXXXXXXXX mobile friends community.
    Simply confirm or reject your relationship with XXXXXXXX.
    Don’t want to be invited by your friends?
    Click on the link above to “block future invitations” from family and friends.
    SMS.ac, Inc., 7770 Regents Road, Suite 113-405, San Diego, CA 92122 USA”
    Name: Brower IV, E.G.
    Handle: EBR4-ARIN
    Company: SMS.ac
    Address: 7770 Regents Road, Suite# 113-405
    City: San Diego
    StateProv: CA
    PostalCode: 92122-1967
    Country: US
    Comment:
    RegDate: 2003-04-01
    Updated: 2003-04-01
    Phone: +1-858-458-1532 (Office)
    Email: ebrower@sms.ac
    mpousti@sms.ac
    gwilfahrt@sms.ac
    bwilliams@sms.ac
    bpedersen@sms.ac
    cvalencia@sms.ac
    rqiu@sms.ac
    dhanson@sms.ac
    aschaffer@sms.ac
    cmckibbin@sms.ac
    ksmith@sms.ac
    dshresta@sms.ac
    tcarter@sms.ac
    sponsorships@corp.sms.ac
    hr@corp.sms.ac
    bizdev@corp.sms.ac
    partnerinfo@corp.sms.ac
    prcomm@corp.sms.ac
    customercare@corp.sms.ac

  5. I keep getting spammed by this stuff to. But I have a plan. Let’s fight fire with fire, if we all work together it will work fantastically. Let’s use their own software against them.
    Step 1: Create a new hotmail account
    Step 2: Add the following e-mail addresses, as found on the SMS.ac corporate website, to the address book of your new account
    sponsorships@corp.sms.ac
    hr@corp.sms.ac
    bizdev@corp.sms.ac
    partnerinfo@corp.sms.ac
    prcomm@corp.sms.ac
    customercare@corp.sms.ac
    Step 3: Sign up for SMS.ac using you’re newly created account
    Now they will be spamming themselves. The more people we get to do this the better. Sure they will eventually block all such e-mails in their system, but that’s the future, let’s punish them today.

  6. Look here: http://www.txt.ca./current_codes.htm
    Follow the instructions here: http://www.sms.ac/help/answers/acct_8.asp
    The short code for Canada is:
    SMSMO (76766)

  7. Thanks! I’ve been getting emails from these guys at SCAMS about Kajagoogoo wanting me to join his party. Did a search on them and this is where it took me. How do I stop the emails without going to them?
    Appreciate your help, E.M.

  8. hear, hear – just got another one of those invites

  9. send free sms in world

  10. Someone should file a suit against sms.ac
    They trick so many people into giving up their MSN messenger password and then they spam all their contacts in their name. Most of your friends will also unwittingly fall into their trap and so on.
    These fiends/bast*rds should be made to pay.

  11. I Thank you too much!