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Messages usually cost about 12p. One text message recently circulated to Vodafone users began 'Hi, Sexy' and asked Mobile sex text phone user if they wanted more details. Any response triggered more messages, each paid for by "Mobile sex text" recipient. A watchdog body for premium phone Mobile sex text is now investigating two such operations that have hit users on the Vodafone network.

The method by which receivers are charged for Mobile sex text messages is known as 'reverse SMS'. The expensive messages can be blocked by the networks if a customer complains, but often recipients do not know they are paying for the messages.

A spokesman for the watchdog said mobile phone networks needed to do more to tackle the problem before the messages were sent.

There has been a huge rise in text messaging over the past year. Latest figures show 1. It is believed more than 1bn messages were sent over Christmas and New Year. Industry experts said the boom in text messaging had provided unscrupulous firms with an opportunity to abuse the system.

Rockman says the Mobile sex text networks should refund customers as a priority. A spokesman for Vodafone said the firm was aware of recent complaints about unsolicited text messages and was collecting data to determine the extent of the problem. The company said it did not pass any of its clients' numbers onto other firms. It is believed some companies use powerful computers to randomly generate mobile phone numbers, which are then indiscriminately sent text messages.

A spokesman for mobile phone network Orange said the firm had been targeted by overseas operators who had attempted to send such messages on its network. It added that it was working on developing technology that would automatically filter out such messages. A spokeswoman for BT Cellnet said users should ignore any text messages from unsolicited sources. Mobile phone users can also register their phone number with Mobile sex text Oftel-run Telephone Preference Service, which will automatically block all such messages 28 days after registration.

However, registering with TPS will also block access to services - such as sports scores or news updates - that mobile phone users may wish to subscribe to.

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Mobile phone users are being conned out of hundreds of pounds by paying for unsolicited premium-rate text messages that promise cash prizes or invitations to join adult chatlines. Topics UK news The Observer.

Mobile phone users are being conned out of hundreds Mobile sex text pounds by paying for unsolicited premium-rate text messages that promise cash.

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