Fake Angry Birds Alerts Lead to $1.2 Million Fine
A new scam to hit the mobile market had Angry Bird players in an uproar.
Jesta Digital, also known as Jamster, is a company from California that is now under fire for duping customers into clicking on ad banners, which led to unwanted charges onto their cell phone bills.
The company created an ad that alerted Angry Birds players of viruses on their phones. The customers who clicked on the banners inadvertently signed up for a $9.99 per month charge for ringtones and other mobile content. This money was charged to the customers’ phone bills without their permission.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a claim against Jesta, which eventually led to a $1.2 million settlement with the FTC. In addition, the company must give full refunds to all affected customers.
Another troubling part of this scandal is the fact that Jesta’s ad banner never actually identified viruses on phones. While users panicked that there may be something wrong with their phones, the app they thought would protect them never scanned for issues. It just charged them for something they didn’t want or need.
“They were frightening people into thinking their mobile device was infected and they had the software to fix it,” said the FTC’s associate director, Lois Greisman. “I think that’s pretty outrageous.”
Most users who were affected by the scam will get an automatic refund on their phone bills. Others will get a text message or other alert, letting them know about the option for a refund.
If you have played the free version of Angry Birds within the past couple years and clicked on an ad banner like that, be watching for this refund.
About Bill Hardekopf
Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of LowCards.com and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.