The operator of a text message spamming operation that sent more than 29 million text messages to consumers promising “free” $1,000 Walmart and Best Buy gift cards, has been ordered to pay $148,309 for his involvement in the scam. Phil Flora, of Orange County, Calif., was also found in contempt for violating a prior Federal Trade Commission order.
“When scammers ignore court orders, they do so at their own peril,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “As this case shows, no matter how much scammers may try to hide their involvement, we will work to uncover their role and ensure they give up their ill-gotten gains.”
In March 2013, the FTC named Flora as a defendant in one of several enforcement actions brought across the country against operators of “free” gift card text messaging scams.
In November 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered a final order and default judgment against Flora for his involvement in the scam. The final order permanently bans Flora from sending spam text messages and imposes a judgment of $148,309 – an amount equivalent to the money he gained through his illegal scheme.
The court also found Flora in civil contempt because his conduct violated an order from a previous FTC case concerning highly similar illegal practices. In this 2011 case, the FTC alleged that Flora sent millions of unwanted text messages advertising bogus mortgage loan modifications.
The stipulated order settling the 2011 case permanently banned Flora from sending spam text messages. The court found that Flora had violated this provision through the conduct that led to the FTC’s 2013 case.