Lawsuit Seeks $1 Billion From Florida Text Spammers

Thousands of people in Florida have apparently been plagued with unwanted text messages for a scrap metal business looking to buy junk cars. Now on lawyer says he’s found the people responsible for the text spam — and that they owe at least $1 billion in fines.

The Orlando Sun-Sentinel reports on the lawsuit, filed last week in federal court. It alleges that the defendants — a group that currently only lists three individuals but leaves room for a large number of John Does — “sent out tens of thousands of unwanted text messages in an attempt to increase the bottom line of their scrap metal business,” and that they should pay $500 per offending text message.

The suit claims that the defendants, owners of towing and scrap metal businesses in Miami, purchased a list of consumers’ cellphone numbers and used that information to illegally blast out “WE BUY JUNK CARS” texts through an auto-dialing system.

The lawyer for the plaintiffs tells the Sun-Sentinel:

The law is quite clear in this regard: If you call or text a cellular telephone using an auto dialer without the prior express consent of the consumer, you have broken the law and are subject to financial penalties… Those penalties can be as high as $1,500 dollars in some cases.

Texters should pay $1 billion for JUNK CAR spam, lawsuit says [Sun-Sentinel.com]

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  1. Marlin says:

    Report the spammers as well, just don’t delete.

    http://www.fcc.gov/complaints

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      After submitting about half a dozen of the complaints, I’ve never gotten any kind of acknowledgement or feedback other than the form response. It really does seem like it escapes out to the void somewhere, and the texts just keep coming.

      • Marlin says:

        Its a “big fish” thing.

        If you and 2 others complain about Bob the spammer chances are the Fed will not even look at Bob.

        But you and 10,000 complain about bob and he moves up the list.

    • jiubreyn says:

      If you happen to use AT&T they’re keeping a log of spammers as well. Forward the text message to SPAM (7726). You will get a reply asking for the phone number it was sent from. I THINK they are blacklisting these numbers because I haven’t gotten a duplicate text.

  2. Coffee says:

    “If you would like to opt out of this $1 billion judgment against you, press “╧” now.

  3. Alexk says:

    Great idea. Now let’s do the same thing to the clowns who ignore the laws against calling with their “lower interest rates” and “home security system” scams.

  4. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Great, now please go after the Seattle number that keeps calling about taking a political survey to win a trip.

    • Upthewazzu says:

      I live in E.Wa. and I still get those stupid calls, all coming from the 253 and 360 area code.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      They plague Texas residents, too. My wife hit the opt-out option for one of them, and she has yet to receive another. Then again, she did just verify the existence of someone on the other end of her number.

    • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

      THIS x MILLION. I keep getting calls on my phone from a Seattle area code. The one time I picked up it was one of those surveys. The other it was allegedly Time Warner (my current internet company) trying to get me to “upgade” my service.

    • alexwade says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one. Every time I see a 253 or 360 area code, I cringe. The problem is, my area code is 252 and if I am not careful, I think it is a local number.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    I really want to start getting spam texts on my phone. I would love to be able to collect $500 per offending text message. I’m sure there would be a learning curve in filing yourself, but after a few cases I would probably be a pro at it.

    • MarkFL says:

      Just set up a fax machine. It’s the same law and the same penalty.

      Really, I think there’s a win-win situation here. The last store I worked at, we would get several junk faxes a day offering everything from health insurance to small business loans, even though the company has over 200 stores all over the eastern U.S. Since we already had an in-house legal department, if they would have prosecuted these people, it would be an additional revenue source paying $500 per fax. If a lot of companies would do this, it would deter at least some of the junk faxers. And it would also reduce the amount of wasted paper and toner.

  6. Lyn Torden says:

    This is not good enough. I want them in jail … one day per spam.

    • dush says:

      If they are in jail we the taxpayers are then paying for them to stay alive.
      I’d rather they get fined and be free to have to pay for their own food/housing/medical.

  7. mario says:

    Fry them in hot oil!!!!… He he not really ;-)… However, I can attest they didn’t buy any list, but they are just spamming ALL South Florida’s numbers sequentially. I have several SoFla’s mobile and Google voice numbers that I haven’t ever used nor published anywhere and yet they receive those “CASH FOR JUNK CARS $520 COMPRO CARROS $520″ messages.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      It’s plausible they did buy a list from someone at one or more phone companies. But, given the high usage density of the phone number space, it is usually cheaper to just do it sequentially which only costs a few wasted attempts on non-existent numbers. So I’d say it is 99.93% likely to be sequential.

      And this is something the phone companies could catch and detect, only if they were money motivated to do so. A new law to fine the phone companies $500 each for allowing bulk texting, and for passing on any false phone numbers or false caller ID info, should be enough money motivation. Caller ID spoofing works because the originating phone company allows it.

      No real person needs to text the same or like message to more than 10 phone numbers a day that have never texted or called to them first.

      Also people w/o text plans should be able to block all texts whatsoever. That should even be the default. Every customer that does not have a flat texting plan should be able to limit which phone numbers texts come from (whitelisting).

  8. Jawaka says:

    Is texting a phone the same as calling a phone?

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      No, it also costs the recipient. :P

    • MarkFL says:

      Depends on the plan. I don’t have a data plan, since I rarely receive texts and never send them. So it costs per message. If you have an unlimited plan, probably not, except that if it gets out of hand your inbox will fill up quickly.

  9. AllanG54 says:

    Whenever I get a spam text if there’s a phone # on it I’ll text back that I’m reporting them to the FCC. I usually don’t get them after that.

  10. ovalseven says:

    If they need scrap metal, they can buy all of these iPads that I keep winning.

  11. MarkFL says:

    Correction: The report comes from the (Ft. Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel. The paper in Orlando is The Orlando Sentinel (no “Sun”).

  12. evilpete says:

    I get the “low credit card” spam almost daily .

    One time when they called I told them that I smoke crack & just got out of jail and I had no job other then selling crack, they told me i can still get a credit card

  13. MarkFL says:

    Almost forgot…there’s another possible solution. Several cities here in Broward County have started robocalling people who post illegal snipe signs. These are the cheap little roadside signs advertising guaranteed tax refunds, offers to buy gold, quick divorces, etc. In order to get the calls to stop, the violator has to go to the courthouse and show the the signs have been removed. They tried this in Hollywood and 130 signs were removed the first day. Depending on the specific city, the offender may also have to pay the fine associated with the signs.

    The relevance here is that a couple of cities are considering using the same tactic against people send junk texts. The advantage is that you don’t have to identify the person, as you would with a lawsuit, and you can also take on people who are sending the messages from outside the city.

    Here’s what I’d like to know: Since the sender already knows your phone number, what would happen if a large group of people called the company and asked them to pick up a car, and kept sending them to different addresses? Is this legal? If the texters are constantly wasting their time going to addresses were there is no car, they’ll be too busy to find actual customers.

  14. tresser says:

    “and that they should pay $500 per offending text message.”

    $500 per text? I’m rich!!!!! http://i.imgur.com/LiHMb.jpg

  15. wellfleet says:

    Can Consumerist please post a detailed article about how to find, pursue and sue the pants off of these scammers? I get calls from a 1-888 number that claim to be from “insurancerequest.com” even though I’m on the DNC list and despite having called them and asked repeatedly to be removed from their call list. I have also reported to the FCC several times.

    If someone can walk me through finding this scumbags, I will go 50-50 on my judgment.

    • MarkFL says:

      I’m not with Consumerist, but all you have to do is perform a Google search for “how do I make money suing junk faxers?” The process should be the same with junk texts. The problem is that in order to sue someone, you have to know who they are. Some of these webpages probably give you information on how to do this. The key, I’m sure, is that if they’re trying to get you to do business with them, they have to provide a way to contact them.

      • Bugley says:

        “The problem is that in order to sue someone, you have to know who they are.”

        True.

        “Some of these webpages probably give you information on how to do this.”

        Not so sure. But anyway, if Consumerist would post a how-to guide – as wellfleet suggests – I should think lots of people would be all over it.

  16. Bugley says:

    So …
    rather than complain, are y’all genuinely ready to take somebody to court?

    Then place an ad on Craigslist asking for disgruntled employees working for a spamming company to contact you to help convict their employers.