'Free iPhone' Text Message Spammer Settles FTC Charges

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An Internet marketer has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that he blasted consumers with millions of deceptive spam text messages.

Henry Nolan Kelly was the subject of one of a series of FTC complaints filed in March against those responsible for sending millions of spam text messages to consumers with false promises of free gift cards or expensive electronic devices.

The complaint against Kelly alleged that he sent more than 20 million unwanted text messages to consumers across the country, offering supposedly free iPhones and iPads to those who clicked on links in the messages. Those who clicked were instead taken to sites that requested substantial personal information and required an elaborate process – often involving other purchases or paid subscriptions – to be eligible for the “free” devices.

The stipulated final order against Kelly prohibits him from having any involvement with the sending of unsolicited or unwanted text messages to consumers. In addition, Kelly will be prohibited from misleading consumers about whether they have won gifts or prizes, whether a product is “free,” and from using text messages to do the same.

The order against Kelly also imposes a monetary judgment of $60,950, which is all of the money that he received in connection with the text message spamming scam. The financial judgment is suspended due to Kelly’s inability to pay. Kelly must also cooperate with the FTC in any future investigations. 

The Commission vote approving each of the stipulated final orders was 4-0. The stipulated judgment was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on July 17, 2013. 

NOTE: Stipulated orders have the force of law when signed and approved by the District Court judge. (FTC File No. X130041; the staff contact is Robin Rock, 404-656-1368.)

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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