Robocallers and text message spammers are so frustrating. You probably know they’re trying to pull one over on you, but depending on your data and calling plan, you might have to pay a few cents just to be annoyed. Of course, actually believing the spam messages could cost you even more…
The Federal Trade Commission struck back against an international network of text spammers and robocallers operating “free gift card” scams. The scammers reportedly sent out millions of unsolicited text messages about “free” gift cards and electronics and seeking to lure consumers into a scheme designed to rip them off and target them for illegal robocalls.
The text messages promised free gifts or prizes, including gift cards worth $1,000 to major retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target. According to the complaint, it was not possible in most or all instances for a consumer to receive the allegedly “free” merchandise without spending money, according to the complaint.
Consumers who clicked links in the messages were caught up in a confusing process that required them to give out personal information, apply for credit or pay to subscribe to services in order to get the supposedly “free” gift cards. Consumers’ phone numbers were then signed up to for unwanted telemarketing robocalls.
The FTC complaint builds on a nationwide sweep in March to crack down on scammers who using these deceptive spam text messages.
Nine defendants allegedly took part in the scheme, violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The FTC seeks injunctions against the defendants to stop them from continuing their practices and requiring them to pay monetary relief.
Defendants are Acquinity Interactive, LLC, in Deerfield Beach, Florida; 7657030 Canada Inc., in Kirkland, Quebec, and also doing business as Acquinity Interactive; Garry Jonas, an officer of Acquinity Interactive; Revenue Path E-Consulting Pvt Ltd, located in Pune, India; Revenuepath Ltd, registered in Nicosia, Cyprus; Worldwide Commerce Associates, LLC, registered in Las Vegas, Nevada, also doing business as WCA; Sarita Somani, an officer of the Revenue Path defendants and Worldwide Commerce Associates; Firebrand Group S.L., LLC, registered in Las Vegas, Nevada; and Matthew Beucler, an officer of Firebrand.