Florida Spammer Crawls Over Obamacare
FT. LAUDERDALE (CN) - Spam emails from a Hollywood, Fla., telemarketer falsely threaten people with federal prosecution unless they "immediately click on a link to enroll in health insurance," the FTC claims in Federal Court.
The Federal Trade Commission sued Kobeni Inc. and its president, Yair Shalev, who runs the company out of his home on Hollywood Boulevard, according to the federal complaint.
A Kobeni employee said Wednesday that Shalev was not available to talk.
The FTC accuses Shalev of injuring consumers, deceptive representations, violations of the FTC Act and the CAN-SPAM Act, failing to provide notice of opt out, and failing to include a valid physical address in his spam.
"Since at least May 2013, defendants have initiated unsolicited commercial email messages to trick consumers into clicking on links in the messages," the lawsuit states. "In numerous instances, defendants' commercial email messages threaten that consumers will violate federal law if they do not immediately click on a link to enroll in health insurance.
"The unsolicited commercial email messages initiated by defendants include messages stating:
"'Subject: Today is the deadline to make your election or be in violation of federal law;
"'Must Receive Your Election Or You Will Be In Violation of Federal Law.
"'Effective Monday (08-05-13) health coverage is REQUIRED BY LAW.
"'Why is this mandatory? New Federal Law signed by the President made it mandatory for all U.S. residents to have active coverage. You will be in violation and face penalties if you do not elect.
"'You Must Select One of These 5 Options.'"
Another, semiliterate, threatening spam message states: "Subject: Final Warning - Your [sic] Breaking a Federal Law If You Don't Have Coverage
"Please Read This Carefully [firstname.lastname@example.org (address omitted)]
"I sent you several messages to let you know about this:
"NOW ACTIVE Thursday (08-08-13) health coverage is REQUIRED BY LAW
"Activate here before it's too late
"The President made it mandatory for all U.S. residents to have active policies.
"Failure to comply will be in violation of Federal Law.
"You Must Submit Your Information to Get Started"
After citing a third deceptive spam, with the same grammatical/spelling error and a link, "These companies will help you now," the FTC says in the complaint: "When clicked, the links in many of defendants' commercial email messages ... lead to websites containing advertisements for products and services, including insurance. Defendants are paid by the operators of the websites when consumers click on links contained in the advertisements.
"The insurance companies whose advertisements appear in the websites that are linked to defendants' commercial email messages have not authorized those email messages."
The FTC seeks an injunction, restitution, damages and costs.
Shaev is named as one of the world's worst spammers on several spam-tracking websites, including CRN.com and Spamhaus.
CRN, a website for IT professionals, said in a post, checked this morning: "Spamhaus lists three spammers on its worst spammer list: Quick Cart Pro, Yair Shalev and iMedia Networks. Quick Cart Pro, an operation with ties to Russia and Canada, promotes fake pharmaceuticals, Spamhaus said. Yair Shalev, a high-volume spammer, uses the showshoe method to send messages, spreading out spam across many IPs and domains, in order to dilute reputation metrics and evade filters, Spamhaus said. And, iMedia Networks, operated by Michael Lindsay, is a spam-hosting operation serving bulletproof hosting at high premiums to well-known spam gangs, according to Spamhaus."