December 15, 2017 / 10:39 PM / a year ago

Former cell phone company executive convicted of text message scam

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. jury on Friday found the former chief executive of mobile aggregation company Mobile Messenger guilty of defrauding mobile phone customers by charging them millions of dollars for unwanted text messages.

Darcy Wedd, 40, was convicted in Manhattan federal court of wire fraud and conspiracy charges after a two-week trial, the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan said. The charges each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to Kim’s office.

Robert Caliendo, a lawyer for Wedd, declined to comment on the verdict, which came after Wedd’s third trial. The first two ended with hung juries.

Prosecutors accused Wedd and several other people of signing up phone customers for paid text messaging services without their consent. They said the scheme resulted in hundreds of thousands of customers being charged more than $100 million for text messages that included trivia, horoscopes and celebrity gossip.

Six other people charged in the scheme have pleaded guilty, according to prosecutors. One of them, Mobile Messenger employee Francis Assifuah, was sentenced to 33 months in prison in September.

Another Mobile Messenger employee, Fraser Thompson, was convicted by a jury in September and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 12.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas

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