A British company who offered "iPhone 5s" to punters has been slapped with a £10,000 fine by regulator PhonePayPlus, which ruled that the adverts for the non-existent phone were misleading.
According to the judgment published today, the Bumbalee service run by Mobile Minded BV used "prizes" such as the iPhone 5 to lure punters into signing up to a premium subscription service that charged them £2 every time they received a message.
In the adverts investigated by PhonePayPlus, the regulator for the UK's premium phone line industry, Mobile Minded offered £150 of "free" Morrisons vouchers in adverts put on Facebook in September/October 2011 – which turned out to be as illusory as the iPhone 5.
Morrisons disclaimed any knowledge of a vouchers deal with Bumbalee and the monitors found that it was impossible to claim the vouchers. Punters clicking on the offer were asked to fill in a survey, before being taken to the subscription site and offered the opportunity to win an iPhone 5.
Entrants paid to do surveys or quizzes and were charged £2 a message with five messages sent a week.
PhonePayPlus estimated that the scammers made between £50,000 and £100,000 out of the service.
As well as the £10,000 fine, the company have two weeks to make all their advertising compliant and have been commanded to refund all complainants for the full amount of money spent by them on the service.
Mobile Minded BV have not responded to our request for comment. ®