FTC busts scareware scammer


FTC / Federal Trade CommissionA company that used what amounted to an ad disguised as a warning of imminent danger to the victim’s mobile device has been stopped via a settlement with the FTC, which said that the scam was a method of cramming charges onto a mobile user’s cellular bill.

The scam targeted Android users who were playing Angry Birds, and was allegedly perpetrated by Jesta Digital LLC, described by the FTC as a global mobile marketer.

The ad was a warning of virus detection, which led to “a series of screens or landing pages,” and according to FTC, if consumers clicked anywhere on them, they ended up with a $9.99 monthly charge for ringtones and other content. Interestingly, if they actually tried to subscribe to an offered service, the download often failed.

The FTC noted that internal Jesta emails featured at least one communication from a company exec who wanted to improve the take the business away from scam status and make it an actual useful service.

Under terms of the settlement, Jesta is required to automatically provide refunds to all customers bill 12/9/11 or later; notify all consumers billed in this way between 8/1/11 and 12/7/11 that they are eligible for a full refund; and on top of that, it must pay $1.2M to the FTC.