FTC nails 29 spammers who sent over 180m texts promising freebies

By on March 8, 2013, 8:30 AM

The US Federal Trade Commission has charged 29 individuals who allegedly sent millions of spam text messages to phone users promising "free" prizes. The defendants are reportedly responsible for sending more than 180 million unwanted messages to random phone numbers, including many victims without a texting plan, forcing them to pay for the message. It's estimated that 12% of US users lack a texting plan.

The spam tempted users with the promise of free goods including gift cards worth up to $1,000 for major retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target. Those who took the bait were sent to unsavory sites that requested a large amount of private information including medical and financial details.

After providing that data, victims were prompted to sign up for a dozen or so "offers," some of which were recurring subscriptions that demanded the person's credit card information so they could be charged later. Others were simply credit card applications that could affect the person's credit rating.

After jumping through those hoops, the folks who weren't scared off had to convince three other people to apply for various offers before supposedly getting their reward. It's unclear if anyone actually received anything, but we assume not. Regardless, the FTC says the operators violated FTC Act by not telling consumers about the strings attached, especially the fact that they might have to spend money.

The agency has filed eight complaints in federal courts across the country, mostly against small companies. Among those charged is Phillip A. Flora, a serial text spammer who was banned from sending unsolicited texts in 2011. He could face felony charges for violating that federal court order.

"Today's announcement says 'game over' to the major league scam artists behind millions of spam texts," the FTC said. "The FTC is committed to rooting out this deception and stopping it. For consumers who find spam texts on their phones, delete them, immediately. The offers are, in a word, garbage."




User Comments: 10

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QuickWebForm QuickWebForm said:

Thank you so much FTC!

Tygerstrike said:

Sweet! I was really tired of reporting these ****** to my provider. They told me just block the name/number and go on with my life. Problem was I would block one and 5 more would be sent.

Nima304 said:

Good work FTC. I love watching these spam empires fall.

NeoFlux said:

"...many victims without a texting plan, forcing them to pay for the message..."

What?! Somebody have to pay for received SMS when he chooses not to send any?

treetops treetops said:

"...many victims without a texting plan, forcing them to pay for the message..."

What?! Somebody have to pay for received SMS when he chooses not to send any?

They mean people to lazy to turn off texts who dont have texting on their plan, if they do not turn it off they can be texted and charged for texts, my aunt is one such person lol. Yes yes good job, I can only picture them telling other prisoners why they are in prison and getting beat down.

bexwhitt said:

I don't know how US carriers get away with charging for receiving text, it costs them literally nothing, they call the uk ripoff Britain but the USA have us beat on this.

treetops treetops said:

I don't know how US carriers get away with charging for receiving text, it costs them literally nothing, they call the uk ripoff Britain but the USA have us beat on this.

One thing you can do is get internet and phone service, then get a free texting app. It saved me 30$ a month with verizon.

SantistaUSA said:

I don't know how US carriers get away with charging for receiving text, it costs them literally nothing, they call the uk ripoff Britain but the USA have us beat on this.

One thing you can do is get internet and phone service, then get a free texting app. It saved me 30$ a month with verizon.

I use "google voice" it allows you to call anywhere in the US and Canada for free, unlimited text and you can also call and/or text using a browser, and to call international it is dirty cheap! I'm from Brasil and was paying $0.15 p/min to call a landline, to call a cell it was costing me $0.40, but now it cost me $0.03 for landline and $0.15 for cell!!!! I make international calls about 4 times a week, so this is saving me way over $300 a year!

I have Sprint as a service provider.

treetops treetops said:

I use "google voice" it allows you to call anywhere in the US and Canada for free, unlimited text and you can also call and/or text using a browser, and to call international it is dirty cheap! I'm from Brasil and was paying $0.15 p/min to call a landline, to call a cell it was costing me $0.40, but now it cost me $0.03 for landline and $0.15 for cell!!!! I make international calls about 4 times a week, so this is saving me way over $300 a year!

I have Sprint as a service provider.

To bad you can't just buy internet on your phone, if you want to lug around a tablet you can just buy like wireless cricket internet for what 35$ a month? Then again virgin mobile costs 35$ a month for text internet and 350 minutes talking, but the reception is terrible I have to stand outside to talk on my phone....

Guest said:

"...many victims without a texting plan, forcing them to pay for the message..."

What?! Somebody have to pay for received SMS when he chooses not to send any?

They mean people to lazy to turn off texts who dont have texting on their plan, if they do not turn it off they can be texted and charged for texts, my aunt is one such person lol. Yes yes good job, I can only picture them telling other prisoners why they are in prison and getting beat down.

Bullshít! I was a victim who received unwanted messages from spammers and got charged for it. Was I too lazy to turn off the texts? No! It's because I wasn't aware that you could get charged for incoming text and my cellular carrier failed to inform me about this new policy. Before this took effect, everyone knows that you only get charged for outgoing messages. Now, all cellular carriers in this country charge you for inbound text messaging. The fact you are charged for incoming texts astonishes me. You have no control over who texts you and yet you end up getting charged for it. It's like charging homeowners for the mail dropped in their mailboxes. "Oh, you didn't ask for this flyer? Sorry, you'll have to pay for it anyway!" That's how stupid this is. The FCC should step in and make this practice illegal!

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