Spammer Charged in Obamacare Fraud

Even before Obamacare kicked off on November 1st, scammers were at work trying to take advantage of confusion about the new program. And now one set of alleged rip-off artists is charged with sending  spam emails that falsely claimed consumers would violate the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if they did not immediately click a link to enroll in health insurance.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleges that from at least May 2013 through August 2013, Kobeni Inc. and its president, Yair Shalev sent emails like this one:

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

The  links in the emails led to websites with advertisements for insurance. The websites’ operators paid the defendants when consumers clicked links contained in the ads. But insurance companies whose ads appeared on the websites did not authorize the email messages.

The FTC says the company and Shalev falsely claimed consumers would violate federal law if they did not select health insurance by the dates that appeared in their email messages.

In addition, the complaint highlights the law that aims to allow those of us targeted by spammers to opt out.  The FTC says these folks violated the CAN-SPAM Act by failing to provide consumers “clear and conspicuous notice that they had the right to opt out of receiving future commercial email messages from the defendants, and by sending commercial email messages that did not include the sender’s physical postal address.”

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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created ConsumerMojo.com to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.