Andrew Bachman is the latest crammer to run afoul of the feds. Bachman and number of other defendants pitched text message services offering “love tips,” “fun facts,” and celebrity gossip alerts, but placed charges for these services – typically $9.99 a month – on consumers’ wireless bills without their permission, a practice known as mobile cramming. Bachman and friends also allegedly used deceptive websites designed to collect consumers’ mobile phone numbers that would then be billed for the services.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced mobile cramming operator Andrew Bachman has agreed to settle charges by surrendering more than $1.2 million in assets. While the settlement includes a monetary judgment of more than $97 million, it is partially suspended based on Bachman’s inability to pay the full amount, after he turns over nearly all of his assets. Mobile phone cramming is the scheme of generating revenue by placing unauthorized charges on consumers’ mobile phone bills. The FTC filed its complaint against Bachman in December 2013, alleging that he and other defendants pitched text message services to unknowing mobile users offering “love tips,” “fun facts,” and celebrity gossip alerts. Charges for these services, typically $9.99 per month, were placed on consumers’ bills without their permission; they appeared under confusing names such as “77050IQ12CALL8663611606″ and “25184USBFIQMIG” (as a result, many did not notice the variations in the amount of their monthly bills). When consumers did notice, seeking refunds often led to a highly cumbersome process that either yielded partial or no money back from their phone company.