Deceptive Messages Promised “Free” Gift Cards for Consumers
A text message spammer and his company have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they were responsible for sending millions of unwanted messages to consumers across the country, which contained false promises of “free” $1,000 gift cards for major retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy.
Under the terms of the settlement with the FTC, Rishab Verma and his company, Verma Holdings, LLC, will be permanently banned from sending unwanted or unsolicited commercial text messages or assisting others in doing so. In addition, the two will be prohibited from misrepresenting to consumers that a product is “free,” that they have won a prize or been selected for a gift, or that consumers’ personal information is needed to send free merchandise.
Verma and his company were among the defendants in the Commission’s 2013 sweep against text message spammers and affiliate marketers who used false promises of gift cards to draw consumers to websites that collected sensitive personal information. The sites also required consumers to provide credit card information to sign up for trial offers.
The settlement contains a monetary judgment of $2,863,000, which is suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay after Verma and the company pay $26,100.
The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated final judgment was 5-0. It is subject to court approval. The FTC filed the proposed stipulated final judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.
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.
Office of Public Affairs
FTC Southwest Region