SMS Text Messages On Rise for Scofflaws, Pimping, and Holiday Greetings

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If you thought that SMS text messages (those text messages which come across cell phones) were primarily the domain of teenagers who seem to speak in electronic tongues, using l33t speak (“cu l8r”) and the likes, think again.

According to various news reports this week, SMS text messages are now being used by courts in England to track down scofflaws, by pimps in India to advertise prostitution services, and by people around the world who are too lazy to send Christmas and Hanukkah cards.


According to a newly released study by AOL, a “surprising number” of people chose to send holiday cheer messages, primarily for Christmas and Hanukkah, by SMS text message this year, rather than sending more traditional greeting cards. Just how large a number of people is considered “surprising”? Well, I was certainly surprised! In a survey of people across the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the UK, at least 35% of people in the U.S. said that they would send a holiday message by SMS, and the U.S. had the lowest response rate! The percentage of those surveyed in the UK, France, Germany and Spain who said that they had used or would be using SMS as their preferred form of holiday greeting ranged from 56% to 88%, while in Italy a whopping 91% of people surveyed said that they either had or were going to use SMS text messages to send their holiday greetings. Wow!

Meanwhile, in England, some British courts are starting to use SMS text messages to remind scofflaws that they need to pay their fines. In a sweep dubbed “Operation Payback Three”, a Midlands court sent out SMS text messages to 150 offenders reading, essentially “pay up or get locked up.” According to officials, 75% of the targeted scofflaws paid up immediately, netting the court nearly 2million pounds ($3,477,449 USD).

Said a spokesperson of the court’s move to SMS reminders, “Everyone’s got a mobile phone and as one of the most common ways to keep in touch these days, it makes sense for the courts to contact offenders that way too,” adding that “It doesn’t cost much, it’s quick and effective and most importantly offenders take notice.”

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On the other side of the coin (and the law), we have pimps in India using SMS text messages to advertise their services to highly-paid corporate executives, primarily (so far) at large banks. Vague SMS text message are sent to the mobile phones of these executives, often saying things such as “Hi, this is Kumar from Kolkata. One of my executive is in Chennai for the seminar. For bookings, call up at 093309 36165 or 098318 71963.” When the recipient, either confused or intrigued, calls the number, they are offered the services of one of the pimp’s prostitutes.

So what does all this mean?

Well, there are two lessons to be learned here. One, that SMS text messages have moved into the main stream, and are here to stay (so be sure that your cell phone plan isn’t charging you out the plughole for incoming SMS messages), and two, be careful when answering unexpected SMS messages. It might be a woman wanting to take you to previously unknown heights of pleasure, but it also just might be the court wanting to lock you up.

 

Recommended Reading
UWot?!: What Those Text Messages Really Mean

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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