Florida Text Message Scammers Busted by FTC

Dennis Faas's picture

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled a case against a firm accused of sending 42 million bogus text messages. The texts falsely claimed recipients had won gift cards.

An example of the texts, published by the FTC, reads "Dear Walmart shopper, your purchase last month won a $1000 Walmart Gift Card, go to www.vCardSpot.com within 24 hours to claim. (NO2cancel)."

Similar messages mentioned other retailers, including Best Buy and Target. Not only were the claims completely false, but the retailers mentioned had no involvement in or knowledge of the texts. (Source: nbcnews.com)

Texts Linked to Scam Website

A user who followed the link in the messages was taken to a scam website.

First, the site asked victims to type in their address, email, and other personal details, which the scammers may have sold to marketing companies.

Second, before getting the prize, victims had to sign up for a series of trial offers. There were never any plans to actually distribute gift cards.

The scam was allegedly masterminded by 'Rentbro Inc.', a firm run by Daniel Pessin and Jacob Engel of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The terms of the settlement mean that although they have agreed to follow the FTC's orders, they have not formally admitted guilt and have not been convicted in a court of law.

Pair Barred From Sending Spam Texts

The settlement means the pair agree to no longer send any unsolicited commercial text messages (even if those messages are 'honest').

They are also banned from any involvement in misleading marketing, whatever means of communication they use. If they fail to follow these rules, they will be subject to additional penalties.

It's believed the men raked in $377,321 from the scam. Under the FTC settlement, they must hand over any remaining assets. If there's any shortfall, that portion will be suspended unless and until the pair breach the settlement order.

If that happens, they'll be held responsible for paying the remaining money, even if they don't currently have it on hand. (Source: ftc.gov)

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