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This article was published on February 5, 2014


FTC charges marketer $185,000 for sending millions of spam text messages promoting ‘free’ gift cards and iPads

FTC charges marketer $185,000 for sending millions of spam text messages promoting ‘free’ gift cards and iPads
Emil Protalinski
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Emil Protalinski

Emil was a reporter for The Next Web between 2012 and 2014. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, incl Emil was a reporter for The Next Web between 2012 and 2014. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, TechSpot, ZDNet, and CNET. Stay in touch via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced it has charged affiliate marketer Jason Cruz more than $185,000 for sending millions of spam text messages to random phone numbers. The unwanted text messages sent to consumers falsely promised “free” gift cards and electronics.

Cruz has agreed to settle with the FTC, but isn’t able to pay the judgment of more than $185,000, which represents all of the money he received in connection with the scam. As a result, all but $10,000 of the monetary judgment has been suspended, meaning he has to pay just over 5 percent.

The FTC alleges Cruz’s text messages offered free merchandise such as $1,000 gift cards to major retailers, or free iPads, to individuals who clicked on links in the messages. A typical message read, “You have been selected for a $1,000 Walmart GiftCard, Enter code ‘FREE’ at [website address] to claim your prize: 161 left!”

Duped consumers were taken to websites that requested personal information and required them to sign up for multiple risky trial offers to qualify for the supposedly “free” gifts; most of the trial offers were for questionable products and services that cost money or resulted in recurring monthly charges. Cruz is required to destroy all consumer information he may have acquired over the course of the scam, as well as cooperate with any further FTC investigations.

He is also permanently banned from sending or assisting others in sending unsolicited text messages to consumers, deceptively presenting an offer as “free,” and from misleading consumers about the use of their personal information. Of course, all of that is illegal anyway – so “banning” him from doing those things is only a formality.

See also – Path fined $800,000 by the FTC over underage signups, settles unauthorised iOS contact data collection and HTC settles with FTC on charges it failed to secure logging data, exploitable flaws on millions of devices

Top Image Credit: linusb4