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Game of Thrones phone scam nets thousands

By Anne Sewell     Jul 31, 2014 in World
Ibiza - It was recently announced that scenes from season five of the popular HBO series Game of Thrones would be filmed in Seville and Osuna in Spain. Fraudsters saw the ideal opportunity to make a few illegal euros from the news.
Digital Journal reported in early July that certain scenes in season five of Game of Thrones would be filmed in both Seville and Osuna in southern Spain. Producers were looking for extras and Spaniards signed up in their thousands, hoping for a part.
Fresco Film, a company based in Málaga, was hired by the show's producers to find the extras for the Spain-based shoots and they set up an email address, castingjuegodetronos@gmail.com, which attracted 10,000 email applications in a mere 24 hours.
Crooks will be crooks, and a gang of con artists saw a real opportunity to skim some money off the top of the fact the show was being filmed in Spain. First of all a Game of Thrones-themed website was set up by persons on Ibiza in the Balearic Islands, using the same name as Fresco Film's contact email, www.castingjuegodetronos.com.
Through this website, they are believed to have made around 100,000 euros ($134,000) as a result of their scam, by offering a fake hotline number which eager applicants could call to get a part as an extra.
Only thing was, all the fake hotline actually did was to keep callers on hold for a minimum of six minutes, while unknowingly billing them at a premium phone rate. Dialing the number 11858, the initial fee amounted to 1.45 euros (around $2) and this was followed by a charge of two cents per second from then on.
At the end of their patient wait, all they received was an automated message, giving them the valid email address to send in their application for a part.
Understandably callers were upset and once the Spanish consumer rights organization, Federation of Consumers and Users of Andalucía (FACUA), found out about this from several of the duped applicants, the National Police started an investigation and managed to hunt down the scammers.
They first tracked down Solutions Direct Sales and Marketing, SL, the company who owned the number 11858, who told them they had rented the line to a second company by the name of Communication Investments SL. This week four men were arrested on Ibiza, who either ran, or were involved in, the phone scam.
Luckily those who were scammed will have a chance to get their money back. FACUA said in a statement that people should lodge a complaint with the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and the Information Society (SETSI). They must then give a copy to their telephone company to ensure they are not charged for the illegal calls.
Spanish sources:
El Mundo
Europa Press
The Local
More about Spain, Game Of Thrones, Juego de Tronos, Scam, Phone scam
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