Two so-called "affiliate-marketing scammers" and their company agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they sent millions of spam text messages to consumers across the U.S. with false promises of $1,000 gift cards to retailers like Best Buy, Target and Walmart.

The settlement includes a $4.2 million judgment and a ban on sending unsolicited texts, the FTC announced.

Advert Marketing and its principals Scott A. Dalrymple of Pennsylvania and Robert Jerrold Wence of Texas are prohibited from misrepresenting to consumers whether a product is "free," whether they have won a prize or been selected for a gift or other behavior related to the nature of the scam.

Instead of received the promised gift cards, consumers were led to a series of free-trial offers that collected their credit card numbers. Dalrymple and Wence were among 29 defendants charged in a series of cases announced in March 2013.

The judgment against Dalrymple and Wence is partially suspended because of the defendants’ inability to pay. They will be required to pay $15,000 each to the FTC and destroy any consumer data they may have collected while conducting the text message spam operation.

On a national level, earlier this month Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law a bill that will reduce unsolicited commercial phone intrusions by updating the state’s “Do Not Call” registry to include text messages.

The law bans text messages without a written or verbal request from a consumer and also prohibits unsolicited automatically dialed and recorded telephone calls without a consumer’s prior express written consent. The law strengthens consumer protections by banning unsolicited commercial text messages and increasing the penalty for violations from $11,000 to $20,000.

Collections & Credit Risk is interested in hearing from Telephone Consumer Protection Act experts and those versed in the subject of collectors using text messages. Contact Darren Waggoner at darren.waggoner@sourcemedia.com.

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