Woman Says T-Mobile Sent Her Kiddie Porn Instead Of Ringtone

A T-Mobile customer in Oregon purchased a Modest Mouse ringtone from T-Mobile, but she says what was sent to her phone instead was a pornographic picture of what appeared to be a child. Everyone can calm down, though—T-Mobile assured her that they wouldn’t charge her for it.

Egan… immediately deleted it from her phone and called T-Mobile.

Twice.

“And both times they put me on hold, and came back and said, ‘Well we’re sorry. We’ll make sure you don’t get charged,” said Egan.

Frustrated, Egan posted her experience on the Web site’s community forums page to warn others. She also called the Oregon Attorney General’s Office and wrote in to KVAL News.

[...]

T-Mobile later e-mailed this statement:

“T-Mobile is taking this very seriously and will fully investigate. We understand the importance of child safety and offer customers options including content blocking and parental controls. We will work directly with the customer and law enforcement to fully address this.”

“Child porn hits cellphone instead of ringtone” [KVAL.com] (Thanks to Kyle!)
(Photos: LeeBrimelow and gumuz)

Comments

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  1. Con Seannery: Mission Resuming says:

    Let’s hope this doesn’t get her a ride in the FBI party van…

  2. adamczar says:

    How can this even happen? I suspect a naughty picture was taken with the phone by someone (husband? son? daughter?) and she didn’t know how to scroll to get the ringtone and found the photo instead. It’s not as if T-Mobile’s automated system would randomly throw in child pornography.

    • nakedscience says:

      @adamczar: Yay, first blame-the-op comment.

      • Baccus83 says:

        @nakedscience: But I’m just having a hard time even figuring out how something like this would even work.

        • nakedscience says:

          @Gene Gemperline: Uh, technology isn’t fool-proof, you know.

          • greyer says:

            @nakedscience: True, but technology screws up in fairly limited and predictable ways. System quirks don’t turn ringtone files on a corporate server into naked-people photographs.

            Whatever did happen, it wasn’t through a bug.

            • nakedscience says:

              @greyer: Technology is run by humans, and humans do stupid shit that is not always predictable.

              • Aladdyn says:

                @nakedscience: “and humans do stupid shit that is not always predictable” sounds like you agree then that adamczar could be correct.

                There was an error on one end. The simplest explanation is most likely to be true.

              • eXo says:

                @nakedscience:
                “Technology is run by humans, and humans do stupid shit that is not always predictable.”

                yep. Like making absolutely retarded posts on blogs sometimes.

          • slopirate says:

            @nakedscience: “Uh, technology isn’t fool-proof, you know.”

            True. I remember back in college I forgot a semi-colon once in a program… kiddie porn everywhere!

            I almost got an F, but the prof understood that technology isn’t fool-proof, so he let it slide.

    • RStui says:

      @adamczar: You’re right!! Somehow she managed to forget the kiddie porn on her phone and mistook it for a text message from T-Mobile! TWICE!!

      This means either 1. She is an idiot or 2. You are an idiot.

      My vote is 2.

      I’m going to give the OP the benefit of the doubt and assume she would know how to use her phone. Especially given that she is purchasing ring-tones for it online.

      • adamczar says:

        @RStui: I never called her an idiot, please don’t call me one. All I’m saying is how on earth would T-Mobile’s download service start spitting out child pornography? The simplest explanation, to me, would be that it didn’t.

      • Murph1908 says:

        @RStui:

        “Somehow she managed to forget the kiddie porn on her phone and mistook it for a text message from T-Mobile!”

        That’s not the only explanation other than T-Mobile actually sending her child porn.

        The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Neither “T-Mobile sends porn instead of MP3″ or “Customer forgets she took a kiddie porn picture” are the simplest.

        The simplest reason to me is (without blaming the OP):

        She received BOTH. The ring tone from T-Mobile, and the picture from some random pervert. Expecting only the former, she concluded the latter was sent by them.

        Or the simplest reason if you want to blame the OP is, it’s a scam, and she’s fishing for dollars.

        Nakedscience, THAT’S blaming the OP. Questioning how what the OP claims to have happened is not.

      • Nick Wright says:

        @RStui: It is clear you have never worked in customer service. I ran out of benefits of the doubt years ago.

    • Coyote says:

      @adamczar: I don’t understand how T-Mobiles file system works but sending a .jpg or whatever instead of a .mp3 for a ringtone should be near impossible. Also the reaction of the customer service sounds like they get this everyday… which is also very unlikely.

      So if I had to guess either adamczar is right, or there’s a very sick person working in the T-Mobile data center.

    • ajlei says:

      @adamczar: Don’t worry, I won’t call you an idiot. I was reading this on my local news this morning and I just assumed she must’ve downloaded the ringtone from a third-party site and not something directly owned by T-Mobile. I don’t get it, either.

  3. vladthepaler says:

    Do their parental controls options have a checkbox to not allow ringtones that contain child porn?

  4. bibliophibian says:

    Why did she DELETE it? I mean, I understand the ick factor and especially the “this is NOT MINE” factor, but it seems to me like that’s got to be potential evidence of a crime and not something you just erase and *THEN* report it to the authorities…

    • babyruthless says:

      @bibliophibian: I’m sure if the cops want to look badly enough, they can find it, what with the “what’s deleted isn’t really gone” aspect of computerdom.

    • crashfrog says:

      @bibliophibian: Because possession of it is a crime, and cops earn big bonus points for bringing in people who possess child pornography, and cops are generally pretty ethically challenged anyway, so they aren’t really bothered by prosecuting a whistleblower.

    • Mistrez_Mish says:

      @bibliophibian: My thoughts exactly. Not good on making common sense decisions, is she? Option 1) delete it – let the sicko off the hook and to hell with potentially saving that child from this shit Option 2) Bring the evidence to the police… hopefully the bastard gets caugh… child is safe

      *face palm*

      • bohemian says:

        @Mistrez_Mish: I almost got arrested turning in a wallet I found to the police lost and found once. I sure as hell am not going to wander in there and show them I have child porn on a phone.

        BTW. The wallet belonged to some poor college kid that was doing one of those up with people type stage shows. He left it behind at the unattended laundrymat and the bus took off before I could catch up. No good deed goes unpunished.

        • bohemian says:

          @morgasco: Server cache it is a wonderful thing. There is a copy of this data somewhere if the right people want to obtain it bad enough.

      • puka_pai says:

        @Mistrez_Mish:

        Option 2) Bring the evidence to the police… hopefully the bastard gets caugh… child is safe

        Option 3: Take it to the police. They sit on it for 6 months (only logging in to the laptop once during that time, 3 months in, and only for a half hour) and then they shrug and say, “Sorry, we couldn’t find anything to trace the guy with.”

        Don’t ask me how I know this.

    • theblackdog says:

      @bibliophibian: Maybe because you can still go to jail just for having it?

      • bibliophibian says:

        @theblackdog: @crashfrog: Understood, but it seems to me that with a bit of precaution (i.e., don’t just walk into a police station waving the phone around going “Look what I got!”) that risk would be mitigated, and the likelihood of the source (and possibly the at-risk child, assuming it is a child) being located would be improved.

        I had momentarily forgotten what BabyRuthless and others have pointed out, that it’s probably recoverable given the appropriate technology. Even so.

        And, assuming it is recoverable, then your logic would seem to follow that, should something like this happen to you, you should not report it AT ALL because they might still say “aha, possession!” I think I’d rather take that risk, and be able to sleep at night.

    • Shoelace says:

      @bibliophibian: and then post on forums.

      She could have tried to make the same purchase again, to see if it still came through as porn.

    • morgasco says:

      @bibliophibian: It’s probably still recoverable by an organization with the means to do so. Here in MN there was a case of one of the college players filming the rape of a women, and even though they deleted the file, and trashed the phone the Minneapolis Secret Service office was able to recover the file and give it to the local authorities to use in their case.

      • H3ion says:

        @morgasco: Isn’t there a secure way to delete something? I use a program for confidential client material that overwrites the file with X and O five times. I think that ought to make it unrecoverable. Am I wrong?

    • tongsy says:

      @bibliophibian: If CSI has taught me anything, they will be able to blow the image up and clarify it so they can find the address on an envelope in the house across the street so they can locate the photographer.

    • nakedscience says:

      @bibliophibian: Yeah. Then she’d be holding pron and get arrested.

      • bibliophibian says:

        @nakedscience: I should think there’d be a difference between “Um, this came to my phone two minutes ago so I’m calling the cops now” and “By the way, I’ve had this on my phone for a few months and it just occurred to me that maybe I should let you know.”

        I know (believe me, I know!) that the police and judicial systems don’t always work the way they’re supposed to, but honestly, that logic leads to the conclusion that “if you stumble across child porn anywhere JUST KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT lest you get in trouble for it,” and that just can’t be right (morally).

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @bibliophibian: Actually, no.
          Several journalists, investigating child porn stories, backed by their editors and following a strict protocol making it clear that it wasn’t a case of the reporter seeking out filth, were jailed. Extenuating circumstances were ignored by authorities.
          So, the moral is, run far away, never talk about it and for GODS’ sake, don’t report it to authorities.
          Yay, Justice!

          • Jabberkaty says:

            @Trai_Dep: Links, if you please?

            Cause I heard other stories of reporters claiming they were “researching” child porn and their editors didn’t know about the alleged “story.”

            • Trai_Dep says:

              @Jabberkaty: Here’s one, although I’m sure there are more. Hardly an expert, however. Have a casual interest since it seems an area rife for abuse (if it can’t be covered accurately, how do we know what they’re doing in our name).
              A plethora of organizations supported the reporter, explaining they couldn’t very well cover a story when doing so would land them in jail because the definitions and prosecutions are so arbitrary. To no avail.

        • nakedscience says:

          @bibliophibian: lmao nope.

          haven’t you heard of parents and grandparents getting arrested for child porn … when it’s just pictures of their naked babies/grandkids in the bath?

          [scienceblogs.com] <—Grandmother arrested for child porn.

          Also, children taking pictures of THEMSELVES and getting busted for child porn.

          Our system isn’t exactly known for having common sense when it comes to child porn.

    • Wit is periodically disensouled says:

      @bibliophibian: It’s an instinctual reaction. Some gentleman was harassing my father’s cell phone for a while and sent a picture of his naughty bits, and my father’s first instinct was to delete it, and then threaten to call the police if this dude didn’t stop immediately.

      I was the one sitting there going: “But why did you delete it!?!! Now the evidence is harder to demonstrate!!!” at the time, but luckily we failed to mention to the other person that we’d deleted them, so… as far as I know the texts have stopped.

      But, yes, they probably still are recoverable.

    • Sepp_TB says:

      @bibliophibian: Deleting was the smartest thing to do. Reminds me of the assistant principle not too long ago who confiscated a cell phone with naughty pictures of a student, which he kept in case they were needed later. He was arrested, lost his job, publicly shamed and his life was a living hell for years while he fought to prove his innocence. He wrote about his ordeal on the Washington Post: [www.washingtonpost.com]

  5. BeerManMike says:

    Please text 324 to 72789826 for the fbi party van. Only 19.99 a year for the next 10-30 years!

    *kudos to anyone that deciphers the numbers.

  6. ColoradoShark says:

    Memo to companies:
    Here’s the upgrade path for “taking it seriously”:
    -taking it seriously
    -taking it very seriously
    -taking it extraordinarily seriously
    -taking it “like totally” seriously
    -taking it mega-seriously

    How about actually doing something!!???!!

  7. YourTechSupport says:

    She got it from T-mobile. I’d hate to see what’d happen if she got it from those retarded sites with the commercials.

  8. krom says:

    Data transfer records would be able to tell the size of the item she was sent, and whether it’s the same size as the ringtone she expected.

    It’s hard to imagine where an image would have come from, it would imply a serious access breach at T-Mobile.

    It seems plausible to me that the message didn’t actually come from T-Mobile at all but came from someone else, after she’d bought the ring tone.

    I guess we’ll never know, because she deleted it. But again, data records.

    It does seem a little convenient that the data she claims to have received just so happens to be something that she couldn’t legally show anyone else or even keep.

  9. Stoli says:

    I’m kind of curious what this actually was. People are hysterical these days and a picture of a naked child alone (such as in a bathtub or whatever) is labeled as kiddie porn by lots of people (which it’s not).

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    After seeing the picture accompanying this article, I don’t see what all the hubbub over kitty porn is about.

  11. Courteous_Gentleman says:

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  12. Cupajo says:

    Does anyone else find it odd that Consumerist chose to make a clickable link out of the phrase “pornographic picture of what appeared to be a child” ?

  13. Révolution says:

    I don’t believe this. While deleting it does make sense, I’d keep it and take it to the police. If the file doesn’t exist, this can’t be proven, and this could be a person looking for attention. Until the incriminating file is found, I’m going to say it is a lie.

  14. Shadowfire says:

    Define child porn, because an awful lot of 18 year olde look about 14.

    What I’m saying is it could have been an accidental swap (578 for girl in bikini, 678 for ringtone, server has them reversed).

  15. Rob Little says:

    After reading this article and many of the comments… I laughed but this lady is obviously stupid. It is way more likely that someone just happened to send it to her not T-mobile. I worked as a CSR for over a year there… it is NOT possible to send a picture when sending a ringtone… it is impossible. Also, another option could be that a picture was taken on her phone and updated to the pic sharing site. As a CSR, things can be resent to phones via that website.. but it would have had to be taken by her phone or phone #. This is of course a completely seperate program and is highly unlikely. The reason she was told they would make sure she didn’t have to pay for it.. is because she was obviously crazy and didn’t know anything about cellphones.

    Rob

  16. justsomeotherguy says:

    Heh. Its not even a child safety issue. It is a personal safety issue. Child pron is being used as an excuse to completely screw people.

  17. RB_Bhoy says:

    that’s what she gets for listening to shitty music.

  18. Mistrez_Mish says:

    Maybe it’s different for some people who have had a friend who was a victim. I could not just pretend it didn’t happen.

  19. Mistrez_Mish says:

    Nice the reply function isn’t working now. Anywho… was a response to bohemian now it just seems out of place

  20. maztec says:

    Legally she’s supposed to notify the police and delete it immediately, unless they request otherwise.

  21. Cyco says:

    The story says she deleted the picture, but did she delete the link? When I buy ringtomes from Sprint, they text me a link where I have to download the ringtone. I don’t know if that is how T-Mobile does it, but if they do, that would be great evidence right there that it was sent by T-Mobile and not from another source.