Scamsters have long identified social network users as valuable targets and therefore do not stop inventing new ways to fool them. We now discovered a new and interesting approach to lure internet surfers into a costly SMS quiz and to draw personal information from them. The self-claimed quiz site is available in various languages and is already known to international consumer protection organizations.
What is it about?
The website we found, also reported to spread via Facebook, promises to connect the visitor to pop superstar Lady Gaga. This would be nothing special, as Lady Gaga has the most popular micro blogging account, according to Twitaholic. BUT, the website announces to get Lady Gaga to follow YOUR Twitter account and THAT would be a real surprise!
Unfortunately, this dream is very unlikely to come true – what a revelation. To get Lady Gaga to follow you on Twitter you would need to take part in a quiz and send in your score, which needs to be 85 at least, the website says. Simply typing in a fictitious score 85+ does not work.
But how can one reach the score then? One is supposed to follow the links provided. But we’ve seen four different sites opening behind the provided quiz-link by now. And three of them don’t have anything to do with a quiz, but only generate money for the scamsters by opening various pay-per-click affiliate sites:
The fourth site, however, really offers a quiz, an SMS quiz published by tringaloo.com and presented by UnaValley B.V., both Dutch.
A participation in Germany requires the following: A German mobile phone account, one needs to be at least 18 years old and needs to be willing to pay €1.99 per SMS. We were not willing to try out the interesting but costly quiz mode* but are very much convinced that it is not the key to get Lady Gaga follow you on Twitter anyway!
What concerns us quite a lot is the fact that the statistical researches done by alexa.com show that the number of visitors to the tringaloo.com website rose rapidly during the last weeks. We can only hope that most of the visitors left the site without participating in the quiz.
Anyway, we’re going to try our luck by using the announced email participation that is supposed to have the same chance of winning and is free of charge. Having a look at the email, we can see that all questions need to be answered correctly and that all of them are child’s play – Like the initial iPhone question shown on the quiz homepage. By the time of writing this article, we haven’t received any reaction to our email, yet.
Even though the quiz pages affirm through banners that participants do not contract any subscription by sending an SMS, the costs are pretty high and vary from country to country. Even some international consumer protection organizations warn against Tringaloo quizzes already, e.g. Swiss consumer forum or and French speaking Swiss consumer federation.
We can only recommend leaving the site and accepting that Lady Gaga will never follow you on Twitter just because you participated in an over-priced quiz ;-)
*How does it work?
The prices and numbers of SMS described are the ones valid in Germany. If you visit the website from other countries, the terms and conditions vary. Here are some more examples and a detailed description for Germany.
You have to send one registration SMS to a premium short number. Then you receive a quiz question which you can answer per SMS (it does not say whether the answer needs to be correct) to receive the next question, up to 20 SMS/questions per round. Up to now, if you answer all received questions, that would make 21 SMS x €1.99 = €41.79. By the end of the round, all participants who have reached the 20-answer-limit will receive 5 questions to answer correctly (!) as soon as possible. This should determine a winner, they say. Well, that makes further 5 SMS: €41.79 + 5 SMS x €1.99 = €51.74. And, by the way, the date for this turbo 5-question round is set already: 31 March 2012, 15:00h. Save the date! Unfortunately, the current round ended on 1 July 2011… hm, bad luck for us and the domain registration for triangloo.com expires on 14 January 2012 already.
Each SMS, questions and answers, costs €1.00. You may answer up to 50 questions per round. The current round ends on 31 March 2012 and there will be a tie-break question as well one week after this period.
Each received question SMS costs CHF5 (app. €4.3) – the prices for answer SMS are not clearly listed. The tie-break questions will be sent free-of-charge one week after the end this current quiz which lasts until 31 September. Another huge difference to the German version: The participant can answer up to 50 questions in Switzerland.
The game period is set from 1 July to 31 December and the participant needs to send a registration SMS for the cost of €3.00 first. Each received question SMS costs €0.50, answer SMS are rated as a standard text message. The maximum participation cost is said to be €50.00.
United Kingdom (Screenshot)
Each SMS, questions and answers, costs £1.50 (app. €1.7). You may answer up to 50 questions per round to become part of the final round. SMS, sent and received, during this final also cost £1.50 each. The game is set from 1 July 2011 untill 31 March 2012.