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Jamster refunding Angry Birds players for crammed charges

Aug 22, 2013

comments Courtesy FTC CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A California marketing company that tricked Angry Birds players into paying for anti-virus programs they didn’t need – and rarely received -- will pay refunds to consumers and hand over a $1.2 million penalty to the Federal Trade Commission. Jamster's ads popped up on consumers’ phones as they played Angry Birds. The ads mimicked the Android logo and were designed to look like a warning that viruses had been detected on the customer’s phone. Consumers who clicked on the ad and touched anywhere on the landing page it took them to were instantly enrolled in the $9.99-a-month service, the FTC said in its suit against Jesta Digital, which does business as Jamster. One click captured their phone numbers and then transmitted the charges to their phone bills. Apparently, even Jesta worried about its business model. In one internal company email cited in the FTC's suit, a Jesta executive said his counterpart in marketing was “anxious to move our business out of being a scam and more into a valued service.” Few people had luck downloading the software. One company email noted only 372 of the company’s 100,000 subscribers had successfully downloaded Jamster software. Consumers were billed through a process known as Wireless Access Protocol, or WAP, billing. WAP billing doesn’t require people to affirmatively agree to charges or even to provide billing information. Instead, WAP billing captures a consumer’s phone number from his mobile device and then, through an agreement between the marketer and the wireless carrier, adds the charges to the customer’s wireless service bill. Those charged by Jesta are eligible for refunds, but the way they get one depends on when they were billed. Jesta will automatically provide refunds to consumers billed between Dec. 8, 2011 and Aug. 20, 2013, for software or service ordered – intentionally or not -- based on claims the consumer’s mobile device was infected with malware or that Jesta would provide software to protect consumers’ mobile device from malware. Consumers billed under short code 75555 between Aug. 1 and Dec. 7, 2011, must request a refund from Jesta. Consumers in this group are eligible if they downloaded but didn’t use Jesta’s services or if the person who ordered the software was under 18. To request a refund, contact Jesta at 1-866-856-5267 or by e-mail at info@jamster.com and make a refund request. Consumers with questions about refunds should contact the FTC at 202-326-3523. Consumer Affairs Features

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