It’s never unusual in today’s “internet of things” to receive an advertisement via email for a product or service that promises to improve your business or life. I recently received an email from a friend that looked legitimate, so I opened the email which lead me to an investment opportunity in Europe. I quickly closed the email, but not before everyone in my inbox also received the email with the same attachment. The Federal Trade Commission (‘FTC’) is cracking down on the initiators of these bogus email campaigns using the CAN-SPAM law and other FTC rules.
In a recent action announced June 6, 2016, by the FTC against a Florida diet supplement marketer, the commission identified their strategy in enforcing the federal CAN-SPAM law against marketers using “black hat” techniques to solicit the purchase of their products from unsuspecting consumers.
The FTC alleges that the marketers bombarded consumers with illegal spam e-mails in an attempt to sell them bogus weight-loss supplements. The allegations suggest that the defendants used bogus celebrity endorsements, creates fake websites relating to their products, and sent e-mails from hacked accounts making the solicitation appear to have come from a friend or family member.
It should be noted, that the Defendants in this action may very well have not been aware of the illegal efforts to market their product. The complaint alleges that the defendants paid their affiliate marketers a commission whenever consumers clicked through from a fake news website to one of the defendants’ sites and bought their supplements. This isn’t an unusual arrangement, and we have seen it lead to “black hat” marketing activity with legitimate companies and products who are ignorant to the illegal marketing efforts of their affiliate.
You may read the full FTC press release here.
If you are a consumer that has received a solicitation that you believe violates the CAN-SPAM act you may wish to contact the FTC to report the illegal marketing activity. We work with many advertising agencies and digital businesses that are compliant with the CAN-SPAM act and finding success with their digital campaigns. If you are a business wishing to conduct a legal e-mail marketing campaign, contact us today to insure your campaign complies with FTC and federal law. What you don’t know may come back to haunt you.