A marketing company accused of sending millions of unwanted and deceptive text messages promising bogus gift card offers to consumers recently agreed to settle the charges with the FTC.
The FTC alleges that Rentbro and its principals, Daniel Pessin and Jacob Engel, both of Florida, sent out more than 42.5 million deceptive text messages to consumers, telling them they had been selected to win $1,000 gift cards to various retailers.
The text messages instructed the consumers to proceed to a webpage allegedly constructed by the defendants to lend the text messages credibility, and then to a number of third-party websites where consumers were encouraged to send personal information in order to claim the gift cards.
In its complaint, the FTC also alleges that the defendants told consumers they had to sign up for risky trial offers—none of which were free—to claim the gift cards, even after the consumers’ personal information had already been collected.
The settlement prohibits the allegedly unlawful conduct and forces the defendants to turn over remaining assets. The defendants were ordered to pay a $377,321 monetary judgment—all of the money received in connection with the scam.
“FTC action in cases like this one have dramatically reduced the amount of illegal text message spam, especially as it relates to bogus gift card offers” FTC Midwest Region Director C. Steven Baker said. “Not only are spam texts annoying and illegal, but they can also cost consumers money.”