My son, who is 12 years-old, has been playing Habbo for the better part of a year. He saves his money and usually buys a Habbo gift card at CVS which gives him Habbo “coins” with which to purchase virtual items for his Habbo avatar. It was all fine and dandy until July when he saw online that he could get “free” Habbo coins by texting a number. He went crazy texting for his free coins and built quite a Habbo environment for himself. Well, this month I get July’s bill from Sprint and notice it’s $130 more than usual. Sure enough, each text was billed to our Sprint bill. I immediately banned my son from Habbo, blocked with our router and with our Mac’s security settings. I also emailed Habbo and told them to ban my son’s username. Then a thought came to mind that made me panic. I asked Colton if he was still texting for his “free” coins this month….sure enough he was and has already racked up $71 (before taxes) in Habbo charges for August.
First of all, Habbo is in the UK and getting refund out of them will be impossible. They won’t even cancel his account because they say they will only deal with the actual owner of the account. (I sent them a scathing email about that one, though I suspect it will do no good). We’ve asked Sprint to block any further premium texts to all the phones on our account. Lastly, Habbo knows their users are all kids and they don’t have credit cards, BUT the vast majority have cell phones with unlimited texting service. They know they are easy to lure in with the promise of “free coins” and the kids only know unlimited texting. As a parent, I never dreamed we could be scammed through our cell phones this way. My research on the internet revealed that this is a common Habbo scam.
In any case, the only way I can stick it to Habbo is to make sure as many people know about this scam as possible, so I’m letting you know. If you have kids ask them if they are using Habbo, and if they are, ban them from it before you get a surprise in your cell phone bill.