Cellphone spammer faces multi-million-dollar class action
A federal judge is allowing a multi-million-dollar class action against an alleged cellphone spammer to go forward. Wise Media is accused of charging millions of consumers for services they didn't want or order.
The plaintiffs filed their case in October 2012, saying they had received unsolicited text messages from Wise offering flirting tips, horoscopes, celebrity gossip and weight loss advice, Courthouse News Service reported.
The Federal Trade Commission is also on Wise's case. It filed a complaint in April, asking the court to freeze the defendants’ assets immediately and order them to stop their “deceptive and unfair practices.”
It's the first time the FTC has gone after an alleged cellphone crammer.
The class action charges that a typical initial text sent to cellphone users by Wise Media stated: "Lovegenietips Flirting Tips; 3msg/week for $9.99/m T&Cs: lovegenietips.com Msg&data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel."
Then through a process called "cramming," Wise allegedly used middlemen to place charges on millions of consumers' cellphone bills, even when consumers rejected the offers or simply didn't respond.
The suit also names Mobile Messenger Americas, mBlox Incorporated and Motricity, aggregators that it says acted as Wise's middlemen. Mobile Messenger had moved for dismissal of the claims against it but U.S. District Judge William Alsup, of the Northern California district, refused and allowed the case to go forward.
Alsup left the class's actions for conversion, negligence -- and the common law counts of unjust enrichment and money had and received -- intact. He found that at this stage of the proceedings, there was sufficient cause to believe that money was taken from cellphone users and restitution must be paid.
Lead plaintiffs in the case are Edward Fields, Cathie O'Hanks, Erik Kristianson, Richard Parmentier, Kimberly Brewster and Kristian Kunder.