Sun, Jul 24, 2016 - Page 16 News List

US charges three more in unsolicited text message scam

Reuters, NEW YORK

US prosecutors on Friday unveiled an indictment against three men for allegedly engaging in a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud consumers by charging unsuspecting mobile phone users for unwanted text messages.

An indictment charged Fraser Thompson, a former executive at mobile aggregation company Mobile Messenger Inc, as well as Eugeni Tsvetnenko and Francis Assifuah, who authorities say ran digital content providers.

The trio were added to a pre-existing case against five other people and accused of participating in an “auto-subscribing” scheme to charge cellphone customers monthly fees for unsolicited, recurring text messages without their consent.

The trio face charges including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to court papers, Thompson was the executive vice president of operations at Mobile Messenger, where two-previously charged defendants, Darcy Wedd and Christopher Goff, were CEO and an account manager respectively.

Prosecutors said they and others participated in a scheme lasting from 2011 to 2013 that involved causing cellphone users to receive unsolicited text messages for content including horoscopes, celebrity gossip and trivia.

While users typically ignored or deleted the messages, they were nonetheless billed for the services at a rate of US$9.99 per month, even though they never ordered them, prosecutors said.

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