FTC jams mobile phone crammers

Wise Media put $10 million worth of illegal charges on bills FTC says

The Federal Trade Commission today said it settled allegations that a mobile operator had put charges on phone bills without user consent - an illegal practice known as cramming or "cramouflage"- to the tune of $10 million.

The settlements, with Wise Media and its CEO, Brian M. Buckley, and employee Winston J. Deloney, permanently ban them from placing any charges on consumers' telephone bills or assisting anyone else in doing so.

[NEWS: 10 amazing facts about the world's largest radio telescope]

The FTC's complaint alleged that Wise Media billed consumers for so-called "premium services" that sent text messages with horoscopes, flirting and love tips and other information. The Commission's complaint alleged that consumers across the country were signed up for these services, and that the operation placed repeating charges of $9.99 per month on mobile phone bills, without consumers' knowledge or permission.

The FTC said in some instances, Wise Media sent texts to people suggesting they had subscribed to the service.  Not surprisingly, many consumers - getting a text from a company they'd never heard of about a service they didn't sign up for - simply ignored the message as spam.  But even when consumers responded via text that they didn't want the service, the FTC says the defendants continued to bill them over and over (and over) again.            

The settlement with Wise Media and Buckley includes a judgment of $10,965,638, which is partially suspended due to the defendants' inability to pay the full amount, the FTC said. Buckley will be required to surrender nearly all of his assets along with any remaining assets of Wise Media, valued in excess of $500,000. The settlement with Deloney and Concrete Marketing Research, LLC, a relief defendant charged with receiving ill-gotten gains from the unlawful conduct, requires them to pay $175,817, the FTC stated.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8 and on Facebook

Check out these other hot stories:

It will take a (big) village to get humans near Mars by 2018

Google's Vint Cerf defines Internet of Things challenges

 NASA, Boeing flaunt high-tech wing that could alter future aircraft design

US intelligence wants to radically advance facial recognition software

10 amazing facts about the world's largest radio telescope

Bizarre six-tailed asteroid dumbfounds scientists

NASA: Eight amazing facts about Russia's exploding meteorite

FBI adds five lawbreakers to Cyber Most Wanted list

Habitable planets way more common than you think

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: Hidden Cause of Slow Internet and how to fix it
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.