On Friday, Acting United States Attorney Joon H. Kim announced that Francis Assifuah, aka Francis Assif, had been sentenced to 33 months in prison for taking part in a massive scheme to defraud consumers. Assifuah and his co-conspirators were accused of placing unauthorized services on consumers’ cell phone bills through a process known as “auto-subscribing”.
Due to the scheme, millions of mobile phone customers were charged $9.99 a month for unsolicited and recurring text messages about various topics, including trivia facts, horoscopes and celebrity gossip. It was alleged that the scheme resulted in the theft of over $100 million from consumers across the United States.
Assifuah pleaded guilty to the charges on February 7, 2017 and was sentenced today. Four other defendants have already pleaded guilty. They include Andrew Bachman, Lin Miao, Erdolo Eromo, and Michael Pajackowski. Another defendant, Fraser Thompson, was convicted by a jury earlier this month.
Statements and documents made in the case confirmed that Assifuah was an employee with Mobile Messenger. The mobile “aggregator” charged for premium services, such as monthly gossip and horoscopes. The company worked with several content providers, which delivered unwanted text messages to customers.
This ultimately resulted in clients being billed for services, which they had not authorized. One of the companies, Tatto Media, was operated by Miao. Two other companies, CF Enterprises and DigiMobi, were operated by Eugeni Tsvetnenko. Finally, Bleam Technology was operated by Assifuah.
During his time with Mobile Messenger, Assifuah met and befriended Eromo. In 2012, Eromo chatted with Pajackowski about expanding Mobile Messenger’s auto-subscribing activities. Eventually, Eromo met Assifuah at a trade show in Las Vegas. Assifuah quickly agreed to get involved in auto-subscribing.
The scheme resulted in millions of consumers being scammed out of more than $100 million dollars. 44-year-old Francis Assifuah of Las Vegas, Nevada has been sentenced to 33 months in prison and two years of supervised release.