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updated 3/14/2011 2:14:10 PM ET 2011-03-14T18:14:10

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is taking legal steps to shut down a massive text-messaging spam operation that blanketed mobile phones with millions of unsolicited texts over the past year and a half.

Court documents filed Tuesday (Feb. 22) and obtained by Computer World contend that Phillip A. Flora pitched loan modification, audit assistance, debt consolidation and other financial services via text message.

Beginning in August 2009, Flora’s Huntington Beach, Calif.-based operation sent at least 5 million messages; at one point, he was sending 85 texts per minute, the FTC said.

The FTC’s legal complaint alleges that Flora’s texts included links to websites with “.gov” (the official U.S. government domain name); the sites were “not operated by or affiliated with any governmental entity,” the FTC said.

If recipients responded to Flora’s unsolicited messages, he then sold their mobile phone number to third-party marketers. In addition, many consumers had to pay overage fees for the spam texts, the FTC said.

The FTC is asking the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to freeze Flora’s assets and order a permanent injunction against him from sending such messages under the FTC Act and the CAN-SPAM Act, both of which control the unwanted distribution of unsolicited electronic messages and regulate deceptive business practices.

 

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