FTC: 'Cramming' Scam Sparked Millions in Unwanted Mobile Charges

FTC: 'Cramming' Scam Sparked Millions in Unwanted Mobile Charges Mobile “cramming” — when scammers add unwanted charges of $9.99 or so to your cellphone bill — is a scheme that works because most consumers don’t bother to verify those small charges when the monthly statements arrive.
But the Federal Trade Commission has taken notice of mobile cramming, and on Monday announced that it is taking action to stop one cramming operation that has placed millions of dollars on consumers’ mobile phone bills without their permission.
The FTC’s latest complaint charges that Lin Miao and Andrew Bachman, through a number of companies they owned and controlled, pitched “love tips,” “fun facts,” and celebrity gossip alerts sent by text message to consumers.
They also went ahead and placed monthly subscription fees for these “services” on consumers’ mobile phone bills without their authorization.
“This case puts another dent in the armor of scammers who use mobile cramming to take advantage of consumers across the country,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC will continue working to protect consumers from unwanted third-party charges on their mobile phone bills.”
According to the complaint, consumers allegedly received text messages with random factoids that they dismissed as spam — without realizing they had received them through a paid subscription service they did not knowingly buy.
The scammers also allegedly used misleading website offers to obtain valid consumer phone numbers that they used to sign up consumers for their services without their knowledge, the FTC said.
In one instance, a website told visitors they had won free Justin Bieber tickets, which they could claim by filling out an online quiz. Part of the process required consumers to enter their phone number, and while consumers didn’t receive the Justin Bieber tickets, their phone numbers were likely signed up for one of the defendants’ paid services, the FTC said.
Read the full FTC cramming complaint.

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