Two men were charged by authorities on Monday, after allegedly earning millions of dollars in a text scam which flooded hundreds of thousands of cell phone users with unsolicited messages.
Darcy Wedd and Erdolo Eromo are accused of having been involved in a scheme where thousands of victims were subscribed without their consent to daily alerts containing horoscopes, love tips, trivia and celebrity gossip, for a monthly fee of $9.99.
They will be facing a federal trial in New York and Los Angeles, respectively, and their charges include wire fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.
“We are disappointed in this decision by the United States Attorney office, we disagree with it, and we will do our talking in court”, declared Michael Proctor, Eromo’s lawyer.
Prosecutors revealed that Wedd and Eromo worked for a mobile aggregator, which acted as an intermediary between SMS companies and mobile network operators.
Monthly charges were added to consumer bills by Lin Miao and his accomplices, and although it is believed that Wedd realized unauthorized transactions were being made, he supported the scheme, after being promised $100,000 and a percentage of the profits.
The indictment also revealed that Eromo joined the scam, in exchange for several payments.
The “mobile cramming” scheme, which the two charged men are alleged to have helped run, defrauded users of tens of millions of dollars between 2011 and 2013.
According to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who has brought these charges against them, most of the people affected by this text scam ignored the unwanted texts and didn’t realize the additional charges on their phone bills.
When some of the unsuspecting consumers did notice these unusual expenses and sought refunds, the process was usually lengthy and difficult.
Back in May, accomplices Lin Miao, Yong Jason Lee, Cristopher Goff and Michael Pajaczkowski were also federally charged as having taken part in this scheme. Moreover, two Australians, Michael Pearse and Yongchao Liu, were named as defendants, and have also been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.
In 2013, civil charges related to the same phone scam were settled by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and resulted in Lin Miao and his associates being ordered to forfeit their assets.
The defendants surrendered over $10 million, including the contents of several bank accounts, luxury cars, jewelry and real estate. They were also permanently banned from charging consumers for services without their consent, placing charges on their phone bills and misrepresenting the clients’ obligation to pay.
Image Source: Pexels