The thing about Scamville is, whenever all the bad press about ripoffs dies down everyone in the ecosystem just jumps right back in. There’s just way too much money to be made by everyone from Facebook on down to the guys actually performing the swindle.
Tatto Media is behind this most recent scam (they were also a protagonist in the original Scamville). But the offer aggregators, including our old friends Offerpal and SuperRewards, got in on it too.
Last year it was mostly about mobile subscription scams and Video Professor. But these things always evolve. The newest scam is this: Free movie/tv posters.
You can see the offer at a site called Wazo.com at http://www.wozo.com/movies/v1/promo.php. Just don’t sign up. I did, to test it, and I’ll probably need to cancel my credit card and get a new one issued now.
Here’s how it works. You are offered social currency on a Facebook app (or MySpace, etc.), and all you have to do is sign up for a free poster that is normally $10. There’s a $0.99 shipping charge that they’re very upfront about, but no other charges are ever mentioned.
I chose a Jacob poster from the Twilight movies. Edward is just too emo for me, and I think if I frame the Jacob print just right it will look great in my living room.
Step two is adding my shipping address. It autofilled my email and phone number, which is creepy. Step three is the credit card info, and it still just says $0.99. Step four is the end, a confirmed purchase and a promise the print will be shipped out shortly. I’ve put screenshots of the purchase flow below.
Here’s what happens next – I get charged $30 per month forever on my credit card. The terms and conditions go over this in the fine print and there’s a phone number to call to cancel. I waited 20 minutes on hold and then hung up.
The company behind the scam is Adapp Solutions, which has some affiliation to Tatto. Although Tatto isn’t very forthcoming about it all.
Here a fairly funny series of emails on this.
I know you wrote a lot about Scamville. One of the worst players at that time was Tattoomedia (http://techcrunch.com/2009/10/31/scamville-the-social-gaming-ecosystem-of-hell/), who later had to pay 500k in a law suit because they continued running one of their scam offers (http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?id=22284).
They are in the game again, this time with a new offer called ‘Wozo Poster’ (http://www.wozo.com/movies/v1/promo.php?afid=150431). I know Tattoomedia runs this one, because the owner of Tattoo contacted me personally to run ‘his offer’. At Wozo people can ‘get a poster for only 0.99 cents’. A few days later people are charged 30 bucks, a small ‘detail’ listed somewhere in their T&C which as always is impossible to find. People that want to cancel their subscription told me that there is no phone number. Emails are completed ignored. In other words: There is just no way to cancel and being charged. A simple search on ‘Wozo scam’ on google will tell you enough. Thousands of scam reports.
Anyway, the sad thing is that Wozo contacted ALL affiliate networks. Even the larger networks have picked up the offer, and are promoting it like crazy. I got at least 10 different networks contacting me if I want to run this offer on my website. With a crazy high convert rate (‘wow, only 99 cents for a poster’), and 15 dollar payout for the networks, it’s big bucks for them. Meanwhile they lots of people are caught in the scam, as there is no way to cancel for them.
So I emailed Tatto to ask them. CEO Lin Miao responded:
No we don’t own Wozo.com, we’re promoting it though through another network. I am not aware of the complaints, can you forward them?
I emailed Lin links to the complaints and this email from Tatto cofounder Andrew Bachman, originally sent on September 9, to a potential partner:
From: Andrew Bachman
Hey its Andy Founder of Tatto. My partner and I have recently founded a poster subscription offer called Wozo. Check out the LPwww.wozo.com/movies/v1/promo.php
PERFECT for incentivized traffic, and GPT sites like [removed].
Currently the top performing offer on Offerpal and Superrewards. Sign up at http://affiliate.wozo.com and shoot me an email when you have done so, and we can do whatever paperwork is neccessary for you.
Andrew left Tatto Media few months ago. We have taken down his offer from Tatto Media.
You can contact him for questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ok. Except Brachman says he’s still an employee of Tatto. And anyway it doesn’t really matter. Because Bachman, Lin, Offerpal, Superrewards, the apps developers and Facebook are all getting a cut. And as long as the money is flowing and there are no laws to stop this, people will continue to get ripped off.
I did send just one more email though.
You are such an asshat.
No response to that one yet.