A mobile con artist in California who spammed millions with fraudulent text messages was shuttered by the feds and ordered to forfeit $10 million in assets.
Spammer Lin Miao and his cronies are also banned from the mobile space after the Federal Trade Commission said the group, which used myriad front companies, sent text messages offering services on “love tips,” “fun facts,” and celebrity gossip.
Miao then charged the recipients of the of the messages $9.99 a month, a tactic the feds called mobile scamming. Miao and company also used websites that trolled the Web for cell numbers, which he then billed.
Miao and his co-conspirators operated under various corporate names, including Shaboom Media, Mobile Media Products, Chairman Ventures, and Galactic Media, among other phony names.
The FTC fined Miao $150 million, money which the feds said he’s unable to pay. Instead, agents seized a cornucopia of real estate, cars, jewelry, bank accounts, and other items in Beverly Hills and Chicago. The items will be auctioned to pay back Miao’s victims.
According to the FTC:
“The charges appeared on consumers’ phone bills under confusing names such as “77050IQ12CALL8663611606” and “25184USBFIQMIG,” and in many instances, consumers did not notice the variations in the amount of their bills from month to month. When consumers did notice the charges and attempted to seek refunds, the process was often highly cumbersome, with some promised refunds from the defendants never arriving or consumers receiving only partial refunds from their phone company.”
Under terms of the settlement, Miao is forbidden from charging any consumer for services unless they give consent. The feds said Mao turned over to the government almost the entirety of his assets because of the mobile fraud.