Thousands of mobile phone users in Ireland, across all the major networks, have been inundated with bogus text messages from US numbers over Christmas.
These claim they have won non-existent Apple products, including iPhones and iPads.
Multiple versions of the spam text message have been sent. While there is no indication they contain any malicious software, and the messages do not seek sensitive financial information, they are in clear breach of data protection legislation.
Dozens of people contacted The Irish Times yesterday to say they had been targeted since Christmas Eve.
One of the variants starts by wishing recipients “Merry Holidays”. It goes on to say “you have been by chance chosen to redeem a [sic] Apple iPad 3″, before urging people to visit a website where they enter a code.
Once the code is entered, recipients are told they have won a prize, but are redirected to auction site http:// ziinga.com”>ziinga.com.
Ziinga is a three-year-old company that claims to sell high-tech products “well below the market rate”. It is owned by a company based in the British Virgin Islands.
Last night, Ziinga said it did not send out promotional texts but worked with advertising partners.
While EU-wide laws prohibit unsolicited marketing via text messages, the problem is growing. It can be almost impossible to police, particularly if the messages originate outside the EU.