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You are here: Home  FTC Actions FTC Internet Enforcement Actions

Federal Trade Commission Internet Enforcement Actions

FTC Cracks Down on "Pre-Registration" Scams for the National "Do Not Call" List

May 8, 2003.  Two Internet sites claiming that they can "pre-register" consumers with the Federal Trade Commission's National telemarketing "Do Not Call" Registry are the focus of a federal district court complaint filed by the FTC.

FTC Measures False Claims Inherent in Random Spam

April 29, 2003.  In a random sample of 1,000 pieces of unsolicited commercial e-mail from three Federal Trade Commission data sets, 66 percent contained false "From" lines, "Subject" lines, or message text. The study, which was conducted by the Division of Marketing Practices, is the first extensive review of the likely truth or falsity of claims appearing in UCE.

FTC Requires Scientific Evidence for "Snore Formula" Claims

April 15, 2003.  An Arizona-based company, Snore Formula, Inc., its officers, and a distributor have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they failed to have scientific substantiation for the claims made for "Dr. Harris' Original Snore Formula" (Snore Formula) tablets.

Skybiz Pyramid Settlement - $20 Million for Consumers

March 24, 2003.  Distribution of $20 million dollars in consumer redress will begin in the near future for victims of SkyBiz, an alleged massive international pyramid operation based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Swiss Company Charged by FTC Unsubstantiated Health Claims

January 27, 2003.  The Federal Trade Commission charged a Switzerland-based company and its U.S. counterpart with making numerous unsubstantiated efficacy claims for a variety of dietary supplements and devices that they sell on the Internet.

FTC Targets International Driver's Permits Scam

January 16, 2003.  FTC pursues marketers who used allegedly deceptive behavior involving the Internet and spam to sell purportedly authentic international driver's permits.

Bogus Domain Name Seller Settles FTC Charges

December 3, 2002.  Operators that allegedly used deceptive spam messages and appeals to patriotism to sell web addresses that don't work, including dot usa and dot brit settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the scam violated federal laws.

Federal, State, Local Netforce Targets Cyberscams

July 30, 2002.  The Federal Trade Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, have joined ten state attorneys general and eleven other state and local law enforcement agencies to target cyberscams plaguing the Internet. They announced 19 civil and criminal law enforcement actions against scammers who have bilked tens of thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.

Internet Wholesale Operator Settles FTC Charges

June 21, 2002.  An Internet operator who advertised designer-name bargains but delivered cut rate products, or no products at all, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that his practices violated federal laws. The settlement bars the defendant and his company from misrepresentations in the sale of any product or service and orders the defendants to provide $15,000 for consumer redress.

Three Strikes & John Zuccarini May Be Out

May 24, 2002.  Notorious typosquatter John Zuccarini struck out in federal court for the third time.  After suffering federal court judgments of $89,109 and $610,000 in the 2001 lawsuit season, Zuccarini's latest setback includes a judgment against him for $1,897,166 and a sweeping court order intended to prevent Mr. Zuccarini from exercising his typosquatting and mousetrapping talents in the future.

Domain Name Registrars Duped Consumers Into Buying Variations on Their Domain Names

April 25, 2002.  The FTC alleged that defendants duped consumers into needlessly registering variations of their existing domain names by deceptively contending that third parties were about to claim the domain names.

Sony PlayStation 2 Spam Scam Targeted Kids & Parents

April 24, 2002.  Spam e-mail messages claiming that consumers had won a free Sony PlayStation 2 or other prize through a promotion purportedly sponsored by Yahoo, Inc., instead routed consumers to an adult internet site via a 900-number modem connection that charged them up to $3.99 a minute.

Court Shuts Down Website Selling Bogus .USA Domain Names

March 11, 2002.  An operation that used deceptive spam messages and appeals to patriotism to sell web addresses that don't work, including ".usa," has been shut down by a U. S. District Court at the request of the Federal Trade Commission.

Information Brokers Settle FTC Pretexting Charges

March 8, 2002.  Information brokers who allegedly used deception to obtain consumers' confidential financial information have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that their practices violated federal law.  The practice of obtaining consumers' private financial information under false pretenses is known as "pretexting." The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act specifically outlaws pretexting and soliciting others to pretext.

FTC Launches Crackdown on Deceptive Junk E-mail

February 12, 2002.  The Federal Trade Commission launched the first salvo in its announced campaign against abusive junk email by taking legal action against seven spammers.   The FTC is mailing warning letters to 2,400+ individuals running a spam chain letter scheme. The addresses were culled from the FTC's unsolicited commercial e-mail database. Consumers currently send spam to the agency at a rate of approximately 15,000 e-mails a day using the agency's database address, uce@ftc.gov. The FTC has collected more than eight million spam messages since 1998.

FTC Prohibits Marketers of Herbal Products from Making Unsubstantiated Claims

December 28, 2001.  A Seattle couple who sold a variety of herbal products and an electrical unit called the "Zapper" as a cure for such ailments as cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, and diabetes are prohibited from making any claims that their products are effective in treating or alleviating any disease or condition, unless they have scientific evidence to support the claims.

FTC Alleges Violations of Mail or Telephone Order Rule

December 18, 2001.  The FTC announced a consent decree with a California-based aftermarket automobile accessories seller resolving charges of violating the FTC's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule by making unsubstantiated shipment representations and failing to provide consumers with timely and complete delay notices.

Web Site Operators to Pay $30 Million to Settle FTC Charges

November 5, 2001.  The owners and operators of www.playgirl.com, www.highsociety.com and scores of other adult entertainment web sites will pay $30 million to settle FTC and New York State's Attorney General's charges that they illegally billed thousands of consumers for services that were advertised as "free," and billed other consumers who never visited the web sites at all. The settlement bars the illegal practices in the future, and requires that the defendants post a bond - $2 million for the corporate defendants and $500,000 each for the individual defendants - before they are allowed to continue to market adult entertainment on the internet.

FTC Consent Agreement Resolves Textile Rule Violation Complaint Against Online Seller of Sports Apparel

October 11, 2001.  The Federal Trade Commission settled charges brought through an administrative complaint against FanBuzz, Inc., alleging violations of the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (15 U.S.C. Sec. 70b(i)) and the FTC's Textile Rules (16 C.F.R. Part 303). FanBuzz is an online retail store selling specialty sports apparel to consumers on behalf of numerous clients, including university and professional athletic teams, leagues, and conferences.

Cyberscammer John Zuccarini Targeted by FTC

October 1, 2001.  Notorious cyberscammer John Zuccarini who used more than 5,500 copycat web addresses to divert surfers from their intended Internet destinations to one of his sites, and hold them captive while he pelted their screens with a barrage of ads, was charged by the Federal Trade Commission with violating federal laws.  At the request of the FTC, a U.S. District Court enjoined Zuccarini's activities pending further order of the court.  The FTC will seek a court order to force the defendant to give up his ill-gotten gains of over $1,000,000 a year.

 Adult Web Site Disciplined

August 29, 2001.  A web site operator who advertised free membership, then connected consumers' computers to her server using a "dialer" program that disconnected them from their Internet Service Provider and reconnected them through long distance calls to Madagascar, has settled FTC charges that her scheme was unfair and deceptive and violated federal law.

FTC Settles with Liverite Marketer for Unsubstantiated Claims

August 21, 2001.  Liverite Products, Inc., agreed to settle FTC charges that they made numerous unsubstantiated claims in Internet, radio, and print ads about the ability of "Liverite" dietary supplement products to treat or prevent a wide range of liver diseases or disorders, including cirrhosis and hepatitis.

Comfrey Products Promoted via Internet

July 13, 2001.  The Federal Trade Commission announced a second case challenging the marketing and selling of unproven and dangerous comfrey products via the web.

Netpliance Settles FTC Charges Involving Internet Access Device

July 2, 2001.  The marketer of a device being advertised as a less expensive alternative to the PC for internet access and e-mail has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its sales and billing practices violated federal laws. The agency charged Netpliance, Inc., with deceptive advertising, unfair billing, misrepresenting federal laws and violating a series of other federal laws, including the Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule, the Truth-In-Lending Act and Regulation Z.

FTC Sues Nationwide Internet Scam Involving Healthcare Products

June 20, 2001.  The Federal Trade Commission sued a an internet operation it claimed was posing as a legitimate multi-level marketing business. The FTC charged that the scheme is actually an illegal pyramid that uses phony promises of easy income to scam consumers from across the country.

Internet Pyramid Operation

June 18, 2001.  The Federal Trade Commission asked a federal Judge to halt the unlawful operations of SkyBiz.com, charging that the operation that purports to sell online tutorials on web-based products is actually a massive illegal pyramid scheme that may have conned consumers around the world out of approximately $175,000,000.  The court temporarily halted all unlawful activities of the SkyBiz operation, frozen the defendants' assets to preserve them for consumer redress, and appointed a receiver.

Juno Online Services Settles FTC Charges Over Internet Service Advertisements

May 15, 2001.  The Federal Trade Commission has reached a consent agreement with Juno Online Services, Inc., a national Internet Service Provider, over charges that advertising for its "free" and fee-based dial-up Internet access services was deceptive, in violation of Federal law. According to the FTC, Juno engaged in several deceptive practices that made it unreasonably difficult for some consumers to cancel its so-called "free" trial period for its Premium Internet service, causing these consumers to be billed for service they no longer wanted. Other FTC allegations include the charge that Juno also failed to disclose adequately that some subscribers to its Internet services would incur long distance telephone charges while connecting to the Internet.

Web Crammers Settle FTC Charges

April 17, 2001.  Web site operators who billed consumers for "free trials" have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that their practices were deceptive and violated federal law.  The settlement will bar the defendants from making false or misleading statements - including misrepresenting whether consumers will be charged for goods or services during a free-trial period - and will bar billing before providing clear and conspicuous notice of all terms and conditions.

Internet Pyramid Promoters Settle FTC Charges for $5 Million

March 27, 2001.  Operators of an internet-based business opportunity that promised easy income for investors in an internet shopping mall network settled FTC charges that their scheme was an illegal pyramid operation.  Under the terms of the settlement, Bigsmart.Com L.L.C., and its principals will provide up to $5 million in consumer redress and post a $500,000 performance bond before engaging in any new multi-level marketing activity.

Internet "Pagejacker" Settles FTC Charges

February 12, 2001.  The FTC shut down a scam that copied existing web sites and inserted coded instructions in the copycat sites which automatically redirected consumers to adult sites. Then the scammers disabled the browser's "back" and "exit" commands so that Internet surfers trying to escape the pornographic images faced screen after screen of similar material and ads for other adult sites.

Internet Pyramid Artists Settle FTC Charges

November 28, 2000.  Defendants in a pyramid scheme that disguised itself as a legitimate work-at-home operation have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the scheme violated federal laws. The settlement bans the defendants from engaging in pyramid schemes, bars misrepresentations about the availability and profitability of jobs and requires that the defendants pay $72,000 in consumer redress.

Law Enforcement Cracks Down on Deceptive Spam

January 5, 2001.  The FTC and federal and state law enforcement partners brought hundreds of actions in the past year against scam artists who used the mail, unsolicited faxes and e-mail "spam" to bilk millions of dollars out of consumers and businesses.  For the fourth straight year, the FTC, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Securities and Exchange Commission and National Association of Attorneys General partnered to stop a wide variety of deceptive offers sent to consumers via direct mail, by e-mail or fax.

Internet Auction Fraud Targeted by Law Enforcers

April 30, 2003.  The Federal Trade Commission and 29 state Attorneys General have launched a law enforcement crackdown targeting Internet auction scams that bilked thousands of consumers out of their money and merchandise.

FTC Asks Court to Block Deceptive Spam Operation

April 17, 2003.  The Federal Trade Commission asked a U.S. District Court to block an allegedly illegal spam operation that uses deceptively bland subject lines, false return addresses, and empty "reply-to" links to expose unsuspecting consumers, including children, to sexually explicit material.

Florida Couple Banned from Selling Work-At-Home Business Opportunities

April 1, 2003.  A couple doing business through six corporations and five unincorporated entities are permanently banned from selling work-at-home business opportunities and from selling chain marketing schemes, including pyramid and Ponzi schemes, as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Hershey Foods & Mrs. Fields Fined for Violating COPPA

February 27, 2003.  Mrs. Fields Cookies and Hershey Foods Corporation settled FTC charges that their web sites violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule by collecting personal information from children without first obtaining the proper parental consent. Mrs. Fields will pay civil penalties of $100,000 and Hershey will pay civil penalties of $85,000.

FTC Pursues Phony Envelope Stuffing Work-at-Home Business Opportunity

December 9, 2002.  The Federal Trade Commission charged a South Carolina resident using various company names with deceptively marketing his purported envelope stuffing employment opportunities to consumers over the internet.

Authorities Tackle Deceptive Spam and Internet Scams

November 13, 2002.  The FTC and 12 federal, state, and local law enforcement and consumer protection agencies work together to fight deceptive spam and Internet scams.

Deceptive Spammers Settle FTC Charges

October 23, 2002.  Spammers who used deceptive earnings claims and fictitious testimonials to sell spam e-mail lists as business opportunities have settled Federal Trade Commission charges that their operations violated federal laws.  Defendants are barred from making false, misleading, or deceptive claims about their e-mail lists, software, service, marketing program, or any other business opportunity.

Company Touts Unproven Cancer Treatment

July 24, 2002.  A Southern California-based company that touted safe and effective "alternative" treatments for cancer has settled Federal Trade Commission charges.  BioPulse International, Inc., BioPulse, Inc., and their principals advertised in print and on the Internet that their therapies - "insulin-induced hypoglycemic sleep therapy" and "Acoustic Lightwave Therapy" - could effectively treat a wide variety of cancers and other serious diseases.

Internet Auction Sellers Settle FTC Charges

May 1, 2002.  Operators who auctioned computer-related products on Internet sites, but allegedly failed to deliver the merchandise that consumers paid for, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that their conduct violated federal laws. The settlement bars the defendants from violating the Mail and Telephone Order Merchandise Rule and from misrepresenting that goods or services will be delivered. It also requires a payment of $10,000 for consumer redress.

Etch-A-Sketch Draws $35,000 COPPA Penalty

April 22, 2002.  On the second anniversary of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule, the Federal Trade Commission announced its sixth COPPA enforcement case together with new initiatives designed to enhance compliance with the law.

Sweep Targets Deceptive Spam and Internet Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission, eight state law enforcers in the United States and four Canadian agencies are targeting deceptive spam and internet fraud. The agencies brought actions against web-based scams ranging from auction fraud to bogus cancer cure sites, and have sent more than 500 letters warning people sending deceptive spam that it is illegal. They also tested whether "unsubscribe" and "remove me" options in spam were being honored.

FTC Nails Sellers of Anthrax Defense Products

February 27, 2002.  The marketers of a home test kit for anthrax, and an on-line seller of a colloidal silver product purported to treat anthrax, have both settled Federal Trade Commission charges of false and unsubstantiated product advertising.

"Jolly Time" Web Site Collected Information from Kids Without Parents' Consent

February 14, 2002.  American Pop Corn Company (APC) will pay $10,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule) by collecting personal information from children on its "Jolly Time" Web site without obtaining parental consent. The settlement also will bar future violations of the COPPA Rule.

FTC Halts Cross-Border Con Artists

December 20, 2001.  A Canadian telemarketing operation that targeted elderly U.S. citizens, conned them into disclosing credit card numbers, and used legitimate web site payment services to illegally bill the consumers' credit cards for merchandise they didn't order has been shut down by a U.S. District Court at the request of the Federal Trade Commission.

Pet Food Marketer Delivered Orders Late, Or Not At All

December 10, 2001.  A business that marketed pet food on the Internet settled Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated the FTC's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule and the FTC Act by failing to give consumers the right to cancel their orders when it was unable to ship in time, and by failing to provide consumer refunds when it failed to ship at all.

Deceptive Internet Access Fee Operator Settles FTC Charges

November 20, 2001.  An internet business that conned consumers into paying membership fees and turning over sensitive personal and financial information by deceptively claiming it would pay for their internet access has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the operation violated federal law.  The settlement bars the defendants from making misrepresentations in the advertising, promotion, or sale of any products or services, bar them from collecting or disclosing personal information obtained by misrepresentations, and require that within 30 days, they delete or destroy the personal identifying information that they collected from consumers.

Bargains & Deals Magazine Charged with Internet Fraud

October 16, 2001.  The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint in federal district court and received a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against Bargains & Deals Magazine, LLC, doing business as Keith's Wholesale and Bargains & Deals Wholesale, and its principal, Michael P. Casey, alleging that the defendants made misrepresentations over the internet to induce consumers to purchase merchandise and then either failed to deliver the merchandise promised or, in some cases, did not send any merchandise at all.  The complaint charges that the defendants violated both the FTC Act and the Commission's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule (Mail Order Rule).

Web Site Targeting Girls Settles FTC Privacy Charges

October 2, 2001.  Lisa Frank, Inc., manufacturer of popular girls’ toys and school supplies, and operator of a web site featuring those products, will pay $30,000 in civil penalties to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule) and the FTC Act.  This is the fourth time the FTC has taken action  to enforce the COPPA Rule since it became effective in April, 2000.

Spammers Use of User Data Violated Law

August 24, 2001.  Spammers who collected consumers' personal identifying information, including credit card information, by telling them they had to supply the data or lose access to the Internet have settled FTC charges that their scheme violated the law.

Promoters Barred from Multi-Level Marketing Plans

August 9, 2001.  Operators of an Internet-based business opportunity that promised easy income for investors in an Internet shopping mall network settled FTC charges that their scheme was an illegal pyramid operation.

FTC Settles Alleged Vacation Travel Scam

August 8, 2001.  In an action brought against a company that target-marketed its travel packages primarily through unsolicited faxes, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement that will bar Resorts Exchange International of America, Inc. (REIA) of Orlando, Florida and its owner from similar actions in the future. The Commission's complaint, which alleges violations of the FTC Act and Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), was brought as part of Operation Travel Unravel, a 2000 joint federal and state law enforcement sweep that resulted in 85 actions against companies and individuals allegedly involved in vacation travel fraud.

FTC Focuses on Safety Risks of Comfrey Products Promoted Via Internet

July 6, 2001.  The Federal Trade Commission announced an additional case challenging the marketing of unproven and dangerous products via the web. The FTC alleged that a manufacturer and marketer of a variety of products containing the herbal ingredient comfrey made unfounded claims that the products were beneficial in the treatment of a wide variety of serious diseases and conditions and that they were safe.

Credit Repair Operator Settles FTC Charges

June 21, 2001.  The operator of a web site that sold credit repair advice and promised "perfect credit . . .instantly" agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that his scheme violated federal law.  The scam was identified in "Operation New ID - Bad IDea," an FTC initiative targeting illegal "credit repair" services.

FTC Sues to Halt Deceptive Internet Access Fee Scam

June 18, 2001.  The FTC sued an internet business that conned consumers into paying membership fees and turning over sensitive personal and financial information by deceptively claiming it would pay their internet access fees. The agency charged that more than 50,000 consumers were taken in by the scam and that the defendants actually paid the access fees for fewer than five percent of them.

FTC Battles Internet Health Fraud

June 14, 2001.  FTC, FDA and other law enforcement agencies move to stop internet scams for supplements and other products that purport to cure cancer, HIV/AIDS and countless other life-threatening diseases.

Gateway Settles FTC Charges over Free Internet Service Claims

May 15, 2001.  Gateway, Inc., one of the largest domestic marketers of personal computers, settled Federal Trade Commission allegations that the company misrepresented the cost of its "Gateway.net" Internet access service. According to the FTC, so-called "free" or flat-fee services offered by Gateway actually resulted in significant additional charges to many consumers - a fact inadequately disclosed by the company.

Web Operators Fined for Violating Children's Online Privacy Protection Act

April 19, 2001.  The FTC settled with three web operators for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule.  The web sites were charged with illegally collecting personally identifying information from children under 13 years of age without parental consent, in violation of COPPA. The companies will pay $100,000 in civil penalties.

Web Hosting Service Billed Consumers Thousands in Bogus Bandwidth Charges

April 3, 2001.  A United States District Court halted the operation of a web hosting service that advertised services for flat fees ranging from $10 to $15 dollars, but then crammed unauthorized charges of up to $20,000 onto consumers' credit cards for supposed "excess bandwidth" use. At the Federal Trade Commission's request, the court halted the illegal billing, froze the defendants assets and appointed a receiver to oversee the business.

FTC Halts Domain Name Scam

February 15, 2001.  The Federal Trade Commission asked a federal Judge to halt an internet domain name scheme that dupes consumers into needlessly registering variations of their existing domain names by deceptively contending that a third party, acting in bad faith, is about to claim it. The court issued a temporary restraining order, frozen the defendants' assets, and shut down their Web sites, pending trial.

 

This page was last modified on May 23, 2010.

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