FTC takes action against alleged Obamacare spammer

The company sent email messages trying to trick people into signing up for insurance before the deadline, the agency says

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against a website operator that allegedly sent spam intended to trick consumers into signing up for health insurance in advance of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

The FTC alleges that Kobeni and its president, Yair Shalev, sent unsolicited email telling consumers they would be violating the health-care law if they did not immediately click a link to enroll in health insurance.

A representative for Kobeni wasn't available for comment. The company's website wasn't accessible Friday afternoon.

Between May and August, the company sent email messages with statements such as, "Today is the deadline to make your election or be in violation of federal law," and effective Aug. 5, "health coverage is required by law," the FTC said Friday.

Under the ACA, often called Obamacare, uninsured U.S. residents have until March 31 to sign up for health insurance or face a tax penalty.

The FTC has asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida for a permanent injunction against the defendants.

Links in the email messages allegedly sent by the company 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 said in a press release.

The company violated the FTC Act prohibiting unfair business practices by falsely representing that consumers would violate federal law if they did not select health insurance by the dates that appeared in its email messages, the FTC said.

The defendants also violated the antispam CAN-SPAM Act by not providing consumers who received the spam email messages with a clear and conspicuous notice that they had the right to opt out of receiving future commercial email messages, and by sending commercial email messages that did not include the sender's physical postal address, the agency said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags U.S. Federal Trade CommissionantispamsecurityKobenihealth carelegislationgovernmentindustry verticalsinternetU.S. District Court for the Southern District of FloridaYair Shalev

More about ACAFederal Trade CommissionFTCIDG

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Grant Gross

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place