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"Cramming" - tricking users into agreeing to a bogus charge

Jesta Digital LLC, trading as Jester, has just been fined $1.2m and must issue refunds for running a scam whereby it told Angry Birds players they had a virus and could clear it by clicking their link. Known as "cramming", the users then found their phone bill had been charged for what in effect was a non-existent service.

The FTC found that the charge wasn't just a one off either - in a brazen act of outright fraud, Jamster ended up charging them $9.99 per month for bogus ringtones and other worthless "content" which they tried to claim the user had agreed to. The proposed settlement bans Jesta from making deceptive statements about viruses and anti-virus software, the price of goods or services, or conditions of a purchase.  They must also get express verifiable authorization from a consumer before it can charge their mobile phone bill.

Customers to be refunded

Jesta must automatically give full refunds to consumers billed between Dec. 8, 2011, and the date of entry of the order for any product or service that involved in claiming a consumer’s device was infected with malware or that the company’s  software would protect their mobile device from malware.

The fake warnings users saw had the Android logo and were designed to cause panic:

Consumers who tried to subscribe and download the so-called anti-virus software often found that the download failed. Jesta charged consumers by misusing a novel, little-used billing method known as Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) billing.

It's not only the FTC Jesta has to worry about now - T-Mobile considers these breaches so serious they have threatened to fine them and even suspend the payments they are due for illegal breach of contract.

Rovio - the authors of Angry Birds - made no comment.