Social media “influencers,” YouTube channelers, even seemingly trusted internet “experts” spent a lot of time touting Nomad Internet. The company promises to deliver high speed wireless internet service with no limits, no throttling, to RVers and other customers. And with the promise of “no contract, no cancellation fees,” apparently thousands have signed up for the ride. Sadly, like a carnival ride, the end can come very quickly, and has for many who say they’ve “been had by Nomad.” Now the Texas Attorney General agrees—and on April 14, a judge slapped a restraining order on the company and its owners.
Still up and running
On its still up-and-running website, the company is still hawking its wares. The offer? Unlimited, cap-free, no throttling mobile internet service. All for a monthly rate of $129. Of course, for RVers, you’ll need Nomad’s equipment. Price? $499. For all of this, what do you get? “Download speeds up to 100Mbps, 5G LTE, Connect all Your Devices, No Credit Check, No Data Limit, Anywhere You Are, 14-Day No Risk Trial, Pause Plan (eta Q1 2023).” Sound too good to be true? Could be.
Reality check: Here are some recent comments filed by Nomad Internet users with the Better Business Bureau.
“I tried to get internet, but they, after three weeks, canceled my order. They have yet to refund me the money. I have tried to keep in touch but have been blocked from calling.”
“I have been charged almost $500 since canceling my account in January of 2023. It is impossible to get in touch with anyone or understand how the cancellation and return process works.”
“Our service was fine until the end of last year. The service gets shut off, and then we are told we have a new plan. We wanted to cancel. After 7 voicemails and several emails, I finally received an email back saying it was canceled. We could not find another internet provider in our area. So we decided to try again. This time, we pay $99 a month, and then the internet quits. Well, come to find out, we have a 300gb limit, and we were never made aware of that.”
“I have had spotty to zero service for the entire time I have had service with Nomad. I called to cancel and was given the opportunity to change routers. Nomad sent the exact same router. I experienced the exact same problems! … have made several attempts to cancel my service. I finally received an email February 21, 2023, with an address to return router. Nomad has continued to charge my account $149 per month, although I have not had service with them for 6 months. (The router) DOESN’T work.”
Major carriers clipped in the scheme
It seems Nomad Internet customers weren’t the only ones to feel the burn. In a lawsuit filed at the end of March against Nomad by the Texas Attorney General, some ugly allegations surfaced. Here are the key points.
Nomad Internet, says the suit, “perpetuated a $75 million deceptive scheme against major internet service providers and individual consumers alike.” How did they do it? Nomad approached mobile internet service providers like Verizon, “masquerading as legitimate entities requiring wireless data and equipment.” Nomad didn’t tell these wireless companies they were planning on leasing out the wireless companies’ SIM cards—which is illegal under the terms they agreed to. Since Nomad isn’t “an authorized internet service reseller,” their acts, says the Texas AG, were illegal.
Felt markers used to fleece
To make the scam work, Nomad used black felt markers to black out the name of the SIM card provider before sending them out to their “customers.” The users would jump onto the internet and begin using the service they bought and paid for in good faith. But each SIM card has its own individual identifying signature. It didn’t take long for the wireless companies to spot high levels of broadband usage, often in areas where the SIM card should not have been used. The reaction was swift—throttle the device, or shut it down completely.
When that part of the scheme failed, Nomad, says the lawsuit, took a different approach. Nomad tried an end run by applying “for thousands of individual data lines using fictional identities.” With the ill-gotten SIM cards in hand, Nomad would send them on to unsuspecting customers. Of course, the supplying wireless carriers didn’t take long to “cotton on” to the matter, and then simply shut down the line of service, “leaving consumers without internet access for which they were paying.” Even after their customer’s wireless equipment was useless, Nomad kept billing for the non-existent service.
All the while, says the lawsuit, Nomad “explicitly claimed an affiliation with traditional service providers when no such partnership existed.” This affiliation showed up in advertisements promoted by Nomad. The company was pretty brazen, even publishing photos of huge numbers of Verizon SIM cards on its social media pages.
Consumers hit the fan
As the outages caused by outraged service providers began hitting customers, the customers began hitting the fan. After contacting Nomad to complain about service cutoffs, Nomad would sometimes send a new router and SIM card. “Oftentimes,” says the suit, “the SIM card sent to a complaining consumer was a SIM card that had already been throttled, resulting in equally poor speeds.” If the customer demanded their account be canceled, they were told they’d have to send back their equipment first. In some cases, customers had never received that equipment to begin with. Others were told their account was canceled, “only to be later charged by [Nomad] again.”
On April 14, a Comal County, Texas, District Court judge signed off on a temporary injunction. While hearing the actual suit against Nomad is still off in the distance, the court order may go some way toward helping consumers see some justice. The judge ordered an asset freeze on not only the company’s bank accounts, but those also held by Nomad’s officers, Jessica Garza, Joshua Garza, and Alan Harmon. They won’t be able to freely dip into the Nomad accounts, nor even their own. Since it has been established these folks had multiple businesses where funds could be transferred and hidden, the banks may only transfer funds at the order of the court. If and when the suit is handled, there may still be some money to refund to consumers, should the court so order.
Living the “high life”
The Texas AG made it a point, in a brief to the court, that the Garzas and Harmon may have a propensity to “live the high life.” “Defendants have formed numerous limited liability companies in Texas and throughout the United States which they use, at least in part, to wire transfer money between accounts in an effort to launder proceeds derived from their online scam. Defendants spend funds as quickly as funds are being deposited into their business banking accounts, including for personal purposes such as plastic surgery, jewelry, and luxury cars.”
Included in the restraining order are other seeming protections. The defendants can’t hide, destroy, or move business records. They’re also prohibited from “selling or offering for sale any telecommunications services, including but not limited to high-speed wired or wireless internet, and cellular plans without authorization or contractual agreement with a network or service provider.”
Nomad made us a recommendation
So just how well is that working out? Earlier this week we logged onto the Nomad Internet website and clicked on the “chat” function. We no doubt appeared to the Nomad people as potential customers with a few questions. A Nomad representative who identified himself as Samuel Simmons “helped” us.
After asking us about our projected usage and devices, Samuel “recommended” we sign up for their “Nomad Air modem with our Nomad Travel plan. You can connect up to 30 devices wirelessly with our Nomad Air modem.” Bottom line: “You will be paying a $499 one-time membership fee for the Nomad Air modem and $129 per month for the Travel plan. You can expect up to 100 Mbps of speed with the Travel plan.”
And who is the service provider?
We repeatedly asked who the internet service provider was. The best answer Samuel would give is this: “We use a Nationwide network provider to provide services. Our big thing is our 14-day money-back guarantee period. We send the equipment to you and give you 14 days to see how you like it. If it works, awesome. But if you are not satisfied, you can cancel it within 14 days and get a complete refund.”
And what about speeds? We asked, “I see I can expect speeds up to 100 Mbps. What’s the typical download speed for users?”
The response was as we expected—vague. “Speeds depend on the coverage of your area and signal strength. You can expect up to 100 Mbps of download/upload speed with the Travel plan. In order to determine the exact speeds you can try the service in your area.”
Whoever the “Nationwide network provider” is remains a mystery. We wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if the Texas AG’s office would like to know the answer to that question, as well. They’ve probably used operatives to order up a couple of “memberships” to find out. But if their experience is like that of others, they may be waiting a while for their routers to arrive.
Advice to the weary
Here’s our advice. If you need mobile internet service to take with you in your RV, look up a major, recognized carrier. Don’t join the thousands who feel they’ve been had by Nomad. And if you are one of those thousands, don’t hesitate. File a complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection division. You can call for help at 800-621-0508, or file online.
Have you had an experience with Nomad Internet? We’d like to hear about it. Please use the form below, and fill in “Nomad” on the subject line.
I’ll be glad to share this thread. I organized it, but the messages are exactly as sent and received between myself and Nomad Internet in June 2020:
ME: Auto closing without a reply from an email from yesterday? Duuuuuude. What the the hell? I’m feeling like a chargeback is in order. You have until 11am Central time to respond via human. So far you are not a company I feel I can trust. WE WILL NOT BE HERE AFTER FRIDAY JUNE 5. [We were changing locations…]
NOMAD: Hi William, your order has been canceled and refunded.
ME: So no explanation? I ordered this because I needed it. No attempt to salvage the sale? I really don’t understand.
NOMAD: We take threats of chargebacks seriously. Once they are made, our policy is to cancel the order.
ME: I can understand that. And as a biz owner, I would feel the same. I will be glad to reorder when I arrive at my new destination, but… [continued]
ME (continued): As to the chargeback comment, I felt like I had been scammed. Perhaps seeing it from the customer’s point of view here could help. I would like to know why there was a delay in a human dealing with my order (5+ days!) , why my email questioning this was met with an auto response, followed by a thread closure, and what is the expected delivery process.
NOMAD / JADEN GARZA: Hi William, is you probably figured out. I am the owner here. Unfortunately, I have been scammed. And scams look a lot different. People don’t email you. More importantly, for me, it’s not easy to confuse the delay on shipping when the world just moved through a global pandemic for a scam. When I am working with a company, I try to understand what the people there are going through. I dont make threats. But again, thats me. I do thank you for your original order, good luck in your search.
(Added note: They did NOT email me, other than auto-replies up to this point. Hence my frustration. We are currently with JMS Internet and have been quite happy. No issues in over a year. (There was a vendor between.))
Scamming individuals like the Garza’s and Harmon need to have their freedoms stripped and spend substantial time in prison. It sounds like Nomad was nothing more than a scam from the start. IMO they are nothing less than thieves. If they don’t get put away they will simply start new scams to bilk the unsuspecting.
I saw one report that said he was recently released from prison on another internet scam, served a couple of years. Go out, changed his name and set up a new scam.
I did give passing thought to subscribing, but we now have fiber-optic service at home, and no longer work when we travel. So, I could not justify to myself adding a wireless internet provider to our monthly bills, especially at essentially $150/month.
I hope Musk’s Starlink doesn’t end on a similar note.
After trying a couple of different options, we’ve settled on using our cell phone’s WiFi signal generator for internet connections. It’s worked for several years, but we usually end up outstripping our high speed Mb usage and get a bit “throttled down”.
In January 2017 we decided to try Verizon’s MiFi JetPak. It provided excellent WiFi and we kept it until March 2023. We were able to use it on the road, at home, everywhere we went except one time visiting my brother in TX. We were camped next to the Red River with hills around us, no cell service. That 3 days were the only time it didn’t work which I think is a good value and it was only $70/month.
My experience also. My blind spot was in PA’s Poconos Mtns, but a Dunkin Donut 6 miles away got excellent reception. We just headed there for Second Breakfast
Reasonably happy with FMCA sponsored service. Works well for us.
Contact your credit card company often they will help you at least cancel future payments sometimes they can even help get your money back
That’s great advice Seann. It’s part of the protection going through an intermediary like a cc co. It’s puts the ball in the their court and they won’t put up with any nonsense because they don’t want to take a loss. I’ve had great success going through cc companies many times for poor responses from the seller and it generally is pretty painless.