Telephone cramming may be illegal, but it sure is lucrative. Just ask Andrew Bachman, who lived a life of luxury off the proceeds of the sneaky scheme until being busted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
In a settlement released earlier this month, the FTC is set to seize over $1.2 million in assets, including bank accounts, shares in start-up companies and a Ferrari and a Mercedes. Several high-end watches were also seized.
It comes after Bachman and others were busted by the FTC for subscribing consumers to cellphone text message services without their consent. These subscriptions cost about $9.99 per month and included love tips, trivia facts and celebrity gossip.
“Ensuring that consumers are protected in the growing mobile environment is a top priority at the FTC,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a press release. “This settlement shows that we are committed to making sure that bad actors do not profit from taking advantage of consumers’ confusion about their mobile phone bills.”
The illegal charges were disguised on bills under vague names such as 77050IQ12CALL8663611606 and 25184USBFIQMIG. Many did not notice the fraudulent charges and those who did had difficulty having them removed, with many only receiving partial refunds from the phone company.
It’s just one example of an unethical practice that impacts consumers every day.