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back to article ICSTIS hits Opera for £250,000

UK premium-rate regulator ICSTIS has hit Opera Telecom with a £250,000 fine and independent review of its operating practices for picking the winners of the GMTV phone-in competition early. Competition lines opened at 06.00 and closed at 09.00, with the winning name being drawn live on air from a hat containing 20 names. The …

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Little or None

So, some people had no chance of winning, and others had almost no chance of winning. Would the odds have been better if the stupid people had played the lottery instead? Ah, of course, they play that as well. Sigh.

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Oh wow - that must have hurt!

Yeah, way to punish them!

They must really regret having conned millions of punters for years now that almost 10 days worth of those illegal earnings have been clawed back.

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crime pays!

amount scammed: £762,935.87

fine: £250,000

evil cackle: priceless

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Anonymous Coward

@Sebastian Brosig

Since they have to refund the cost of the calls to all the degenerates who phoned in to GMTV while they should have been out finding jobs or husbands (if only for the sake of their various kids), I don't think it's quite so priceless.

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Bronze badge

Re: Crime Pays

No, £762,935.87 was just for one month, they've been doing it for over 2 years so the amount scammed is probably around £2m. Now, what idiot set a cap on the fine? It should be the amount scammed and then some, or its pointless even taking it to court.

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@ Bit Fiddler

didnt the people have to actually call in to obtain their refunds?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Crime pays

"No, £762,935.87 was just for one month, they've been doing it for over 2 years so the amount scammed is probably around £2m"

Try ten times that much:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7010671.stm

"The company that ran competitions for GMTV has been fined a record £250,000 after viewers lost an estimated £20m in phone-in quizzes."

They should have been shut down. This is like one and a quarter percent of their ill-gotten gains they've been find. Why isn't the criminal assets recovery process being invoked?

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Anonymous Coward

Proceeds of Crime Act

"amount scammed: £762,935.87

fine: £250,000"

But doesn't the Proceeds of Crime Act provide a mechanism where the whole £762,935.87 can be seized, in ADDITION to the fine ???

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Anonymous Coward

Proceeds of Crime Act

To everyone complaining about the said Act not being used: make a complaint against the company at your local cop shop - they'll be obliged to investigate it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Proceeds of Crime Act"

@anonymous...

No, they will be obliged to *record* the allegation, not investigate it. In the circumstances, the allegation will be counted as a crime then screened out for "no investigation".

What particular crime will you allege, and against whom? On the facts, the employee might well be a suspect, but the assets are the company's. You think there is proof *beyond all reasonable doubt* that the company, as an incorporated "person" in law, acted criminally?

You're suggesting a complete waste of time and money with no prospect of any favourable result.

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Anonymous Coward

Why hasn't BT been fined too ?

"so the overload was passed to BT's RIDE call-handling system"

Hmmm, its not as simple as that. BT didn't just properly "handle the call as an overload" which would have involved giving the caller an ENGAGED tone and the caller not being charged for the call.

No, BT implemented a system which ensured that the customer heard the exact same message as they would have heard had they been connected. And they implemented a system for levying a bogus charge on a call that should have been completely free of charge (to the caller, at least -- they could possibly justify charging the network operator for providing the facility).

It must surely have been obvious to BT that they were aiding and abetting a fraud in this manner ?

And neither ICSTIS or Oftel has noticed their part in the procedings ?

In respect of the deceit through overflow calls, BT is far more the guilty party than the others accused and Oftel at least should be laying down the rule that overflow calls should get either a busy tone or a an announcement that makes it clear that the service was not reached and that the call was not charged.

Anything else is surely FRAUD and by failing to spot it and stamp it out, even Ofcom is surely aiding and abetting a fraud.???

Overload calls need to be FREE to the caller and Ofcom must do its job and ensure that happens in future.

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