'Free iPhone' text spammer gets small smack on the behind from FTC

Internet marketer had sent 20M spam messages but will end up paying nothing in return

An Internet marketer who blasted consumers with millions of deceptive spam text messages promising free iPhones and iPads settled charges with the Federal Trade Commission today.

The settlement doesn't amount to much.  The defendant Henry Nolan Kelly is supposed to pay back the $60,950 he made from the scam, but the FTC suspended the payment for "Kelly's inability to pay," the agency stated.

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The final order against Kelly also 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.

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The FTC 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.

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