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Financial Fraud Law

After 42 Million Texts, Marketers Settle FTC Charges They Illegally Sent Consumers Bogus Offers for ‘Free’ Gift Cards

 An affiliate marketing company and its two principals have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they sent out more than 42.5 million unwanted and deceptive text messages to consumers.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Rentbro, Inc., and its principals, Daniel Pessin and Jacob Engel, sent deceptive text messages to millions of consumers telling them they had been selected to receive $1,000 gift cards to major retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. The FTC said that a typical message stated, “Your entry in our drawing WON you a FREE $1,000 Target Giftcard!  Enter “312” at www.target.com.tgrz.biz to claim it and we can ship it to you immediately!”
The FTC contended that the hyperlink included in the text message brought consumers to a website the defendants created to reinforce the deceptive gift card message and then to a variety of third party websites where consumers were asked to submit personal information under the guise of claiming their gift cards.  After collecting consumers’ personal information, consumers were told they had to sign up for more than a dozen risky trial offers, none of which was free, to qualify for the promised “free” gift card, the FTC alleged.  
The FTC said that in addition to prohibiting the unlawful conduct, the stipulated order against the defendants requires them to turn over all of their remaining assets and imposes a partially suspended monetary judgment of $377,321, which is all of the money received in connection with the scam.
This case is the second settlement stemming from an FTC enforcement sweep initiated earlier this year against 29 defendants the FTC contended were responsible for sending more than 180 million spam text messages.