FTC cracks down on ‘free trial’ internet scammers

Published July 3rd, 2018

The US District Court of Southern California has issued a temporary restraining order on several San Diego internet marketing companies, at the request of the FTC. The companies are accused of offering bogus free trials for e-cigarettes and various herbal remedies. Customers were charged for their ‘free trial’ and then they were enrolled in expensive subscriptions that were hard to cancel.

The scam goes like this: you click on an ad for a free vape pen – just pay $4.95 shipping and handling. Of course, the only way to pay for the shipping and handling charge is by entering your credit card number – but what could go wrong? In this particular case, the companies listed in the complaint charged customers up to $98.71 for each shipment. Then they send another shipment each month, also at full price.

The defendants in this case are charged with violating the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, FTC Act, and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. While the temporary restraining order will put a damper on the defendants’ tens of millions of dollars in revenue, the case still needs to go to trial.

The FTC claims that the defendants employed deceptive tactics in their checkout pages.