Americans Defrauded of Over $200 Million in Recurring Billing Scam, FTC Alleges

Millions of U.S. consumers who clicked ads for “free” cannabidiol (CBD) and keto-related products were defrauded out of more than $200 million by two groups, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleges in a complaint unsealed in a central Florida court on Monday.

Consumers across the United States were unwittingly added to a continuity plan for products they did not sign up for and charged on an ongoing basis.

The FTC complaint alleges that a U.K.-based group has enrolled consumers into continuity plans without their knowledge since 2021, repeatedly shipping and charging them for “personal care products” they did not agree to buy. Starting in 2022, a group based in Florida handled the packaging and shipping of the products, the FTC said.

The consumers were deceived by ads for “free” CBD and personal care products, such as keto diet and cosmetic products touted as promoting weight loss, clear skin, and pain relief, among other things. The consumers had money debited from their accounts unknowingly.

The FTC also alleged that some defendants laundered credit card payments by setting up bank accounts for shell companies using straw signers.

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