Crammers busted after interrupting Angry Birds games with fake anti-virus ads — must pay $1.2 million, issue refunds

jesta-virusalertsWhat could be more annoying than a pop-up ad on your phone when you’re trying to play Angry Birds? How about a fake Android virus warning from a company that crams charges on your cell phone bill for services you didn’t agree to pay for?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just extracted a settlement from a company that was allegedly running such a scheme. Jesta Digital LLC, which also does business as Jamster, agreed to refund customers and pay the FTC $1.2 million.

According to the FTC, the company ran fake virus scan ads on consumers’ Android mobile devices while they played Angry Birds. The ads falsely claimed to have detected a virus on mobile devices.  The ads had a robot image that resembled  the Android operating system’s robot logo.

Consumers who clicked the ads were sent to a series of screens with bold warnings about protecting Android devices from viruses. The FTC alleged that although there was a subscriber button, clicking anywhere on the screens would result in a monthly charge of $9.99 on  the consumers’ mobile bill for  ringtones and other content.

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.

Watchyourbuck wrote about the FTC’s first mobile cramming case against another business in April.

The proposed settlement prohibits Jesta from making deceptive statements about viruses and anti-virus software, the price of goods or services, or conditions of a purchase.  The company also must get express verifiable authorization from a consumer before it can charge their mobile phone bill.

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.

For consumers Jesta charged between Aug. 1 and Dec. 7, 2011, under short code 75555, the company is required to notify them of their ability to obtain a refund.

If you are among those consumers, contact Jesta at 866-856-5267 or and make a refund request. Jesta must refund consumers who did not use the service offered by Jesta or where the charges were incurred by a child under age 18.

Jesta will also pay $1.2 million directly to the FTC.

Consumers with questions about the case or the refund process may contact the FTC for more information at 202-326-3523.