Deceptive Messages Promised “Free” $1,000 Gift Cards to Major Retailers
Two affiliate-marketing scammers and their company have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they sent millions of unwanted text messages to consumers across the U.S. with false promises of $1,000 gift cards to retailers like Best Buy, Target and Walmart.
Under the terms of their settlement with the FTC, Scott A. Dalrymple of Pennsylvania and Robert Jerrold Wence of Texas, who operated a company called Advert Marketing, Inc., will be permanently banned from sending unwanted or unsolicited commercial text messages or assisting others in doing so. In addition, the two will also be prohibited from misrepresenting to consumers whether a product is “free,” whether they have won a prize or been selected for a gift, or other behavior related to the nature of the scam.
Dalrymple, Wence and Advert Marketing were among the defendants named in the FTC’s 2013 enforcement sweep against text message spammers and affiliate marketers who used false promises of free gift cards to draw consumers into websites that asked them to provide credit card information to sign up for trial offers.
The settlement contains a monetary judgment for $4.2 million, which is partially suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay. Under the terms of the settlement, Dalrymple and Wence will be required to pay $15,000 each to the Commission, and will be required to destroy any consumer data they may have collected while conducting the text message spam operation.
The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated final judgment was 5-0. The FTC filed the proposed stipulated final judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, and the Court entered the stipulated final judgment on June 10, 2014.
NOTE: Stipulated final judgments have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
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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