WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Illinois district court has ordered nine Canadian and U.S. defendants accused of scamming small businesses with Internet-related services to pay more than $4.6 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC's charges that the defendants, which include two individuals and seven corporate defendants, scammed small businesses by contacting the business and pretending to call about a "past-due invoice" for services such as Internet directory listings, search engine optimization, website design and hosting services. The services were never ordered by the businesses and in some cases, the defendants threatened to turn the accounts over to "collections," the FTC said.
Some businesses that paid the past-due invoice were called again by the defendants, alleging the payment was just an installment or saying to be from a different company with a different invoice, according to the FTC.
In addition to paying the $4.6 million, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division also banned the defendants accused of scamming from marketing or selling Internet directory listings, search engine optimization or services for website design and hosting, the FTC said. The defendants are also banned from attempting to further collect any money on any account.