FTC, Canada bust internet scammers
Bitter medicine for pill racket
Working with Canadian law enforcement, the Federal Trade Commission is trying to shut down a Canadian-based online scam it says is worth US$450 million.
The scam has snared consumers in at least five countries – the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – by promising “free” or “risk-free” trials either of snake-oil cures or dodgy work-from-home schemes, the FTC says.
Other rackets operated by Jesse Willms through ten companies he controlled included access to government grants, free credit reports, and penny auctions*, the US regulator alleges.
People who signed on for the offers were usually asked for credit card details to cover shipping fees. They then found themselves paying through the nose, with credit charges showing up for the “free” offers, and frequently, recurring monthly charges (usually US$79.95).
“The defendants use the lure of a ‘free’ offer to open an illegal pipeline to consumers’ credit cards and bank accounts,” FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection director David Vladeck said.
In addition, the FTC alleges the Willms companies used false or misleading information to persuade merchant banks to keep their merchant facilities operating in spite of rising chargeback rates and consumer complaints.
The scams were promoted using popup ad marketing and spam.
Other defendants in the FTC’s Federal Court complaint include Peter Graver, Adam Sechrist, Brett Callister, and Carey Milne. Companies named in the complaint include Circle Media Bids, Coastwest Holdings, Farend Services, JDW Media, Net Soft Media, Sphere Media, and True Net, all registered in Canada. ®
*Penny auction: for those not familiar with this racket, the user buys the right to place one-cent bids for between US$0.50 and US$1. Each bid raises the price of an item by one-cent, but bidders have paid the bid purchase price for every bid they placed. ®
Name Brand versus Generic
In most Canadian provinces pharmacy customers have to be asked if the want name brand or generic EXCEPT WHEN doctors add, on a prescription, no substitutes.
Not being able to opt for a generic maybe explains why NHS costs are so high!
Many name brands only 'touch up' their formulas in the hope of maintaining a patent, according to a Canadian research paper issued when drug copyrights were being re-legislated.
Unless you can squeeze money down your broadband you have to use plastic
Canada has quite an able national police force, as well as provincial and municipalities, and it certainly doesn't need the US FTC. A simple message to the RCMP liaison office in Washington, DC is all that is required.
Snake-oil originated in the US, and reading US newspapers they are as active as ever (cancer cures abound). If the FTC had completed cleaning up the mess south of the 49th then perhaps, they can cast their eyes wider.
The US often thinks Canada is it's 51st state, it isn't - that's why both countries have border controls.
The US thinks it is the worlds policeman, it isn't, yet you find the US Coast Guard challenging ships in the East China Sea and other places thousands of miles removed from the continental USA. It pays little heed to the niceties of other countries rights; there are US DEA officials in many countries.
If the offending company did wrong, Canada is more than capable of handling it - without having to deport the operators to the US for their version of 'justice'.
Credit card errors can be resolved through the card issuer and the card issuer is well able to withdraw credit card handling facilities to businesses, of any kind, so they will lose the convenience.
Besides, if Americans are dumb enough to supply credit card details in order to receive a purported 'free' offer, and they are incapable of thinking something is fishy, then they are fools.
re: I was given a prescription for Biaxin XL
I don't know what the situation is over there, but in the UK if a prescription is for a brand name drug then it's not legal to supply a generic instead.