FTC charged 29 defendants with collectively sending more than 180 million unwanted text messages to consumers, many of whom had to pay for receiving the texts.
Free gifts or prizes, including gift cards to Best Buy, Walmart and Target were promised while personal information was collected for shipping and other false marketing reasons. Consumers we're duped into paying for other offers to qualify for the gift cards.
The FTC complaints targeted defendants who sent the unwanted text messages, as well as those who operated the deceptive websites. The FTC is also pursuing a contempt action against a serial text message spammer, Phil Flora, who was barred in 2011 from sending spam text messages.
According to the FTC complaints, the defendants sent text messages to random phone numbers, including about 12% of consumers who do not have a text message subscription plans.
The FTC alleged that the operators of these sites violated the FTC Act by failing to tell consumers about all the conditions attached to the “free” gift, including the possibility that consumers would actually be required to spend money to receive the gift.
Seven complaints were filed against the alleged senders of the unsolicited text messages containing deceptive promises of free gifts and prizes
One complaint was filed against the alleged operators of the deceptive websites to which consumers were directed by the spam text messages.