The Florida AG’s office has struck again. After getting AzoogleAds to “contribute” $1 million to Florida’s Department of Legal Affairs Revolving Trust Fund last week, Attorney General Bill McCollum and his trusty new CyberFraud Task Force announced it is suing Buongiorno USA, a digital entertainment firm.
The Office claims the company has greeted consumers’ cell phone bills with charges for ringtones they were duped into believing would be free. “In the lawsuit filed yesterday, Attorney General McCollum asked for a permanent injunction against the company, substantial penalties and restitution to all customers who were taken advantage of by the misleading internet marketing,” states a press release from the AG’s Office. “The lawsuit also seeks to stop the deceptive sale of other cell phone content that is falsely advertised as ‘free,’ such as horoscopes, jokes of the day and wallpapers.”
The Italian name is no mistake. Buongiorno USA’s parent is Buongiorno S.p.A. Yes, an Italian firm. Buongiorno USA does business here as Dirty Hippo and Blinko. It looks like there’s been a class action suit filed against the company, too.
As reported by ClickZ News last week, Azoogle got slammed for pretty much the same thing. Though, rather than settling out of court and being fined, the company signed an “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance,” made a $1 million “contribution” to cover legal costs and fund future cyber fraud investigations, and even agreed to help out with future investigations.
The Sunshine State AG is also suing World Avenue U.S.A, which has operated under the name NIUTech, for deceiving consumers through online ads making free gift claims.
The AG’s office seems to be paying special attention to lead gen companies offering free ringtones and other mobile content. Search ads and other ads promoting these not-so-freebies tend to lure kids who can be misled into divulging private data and unwittingly signing up for paid mobile content subscriptions (like the kids who ride the #80 Jersey City bus everyday whose obnoxious walkie-talkie phones have equally obnoxious ringtones).
They're arguably the most annoying video ad formats in existence, but soon they'll be a thing of the past, at least on YouTube.
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