Seattle company to pay $500,000 under new settlement
SEATTLE – After the Washington Attorney General’s Office found an Internet company’s “MyLuvCrush” promotion to be a not-so-sweet nothing designed to prey on hopeful romantics, its creator agreed to dump the ads. Seattle-based Tatto Media, Inc. agreed last November to stop misrepresenting to computer users that someone had a “crush” on them. Instead, the company continued its misleading come-ons. So the state returned to court, securing a new $500,000 settlement and a warning to businesses that attempt similar ploys:
“Tatto Media will pay for its broken hearts and broken promises,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said.
“The lawsuit and $500,000 settlement sends a clear message,” added Senior Counsel Paula Selis, an assistant attorney general who heads up the Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit. “We don’t tolerate businesses that repeatedly flirt with the law.”
The Attorney General’s Office alleged that Tatto Media, which designs advertising promotions for other online companies, violated the November 2008 agreement that prohibits it from misrepresenting to computer users that someone in their local area has a romantic interest in them.
The company will pay $487,272 in civil penalties under a new settlement filed today in King County Superior Court, as well as $12,700 in attorneys’ costs and fees. An additional $250,000 in civil penalties are suspended, provided Tatto Media doesn’t violate the new agreement.
The Attorney General’s Office doesn’t know how many Internet users may have been duped by the company’s advertisements but began investigating after reading negative comments on blogs and discussion sites about a promotion called MyLuvCrush. The promo targeted users of Reunion.com, Facebook and MySpace with an ad resembling an e-mail message sent from a secret admirer. Users who tried to read the message were taken to a Web site where they were instructed to enter a cell phone number and enrolled in a text-messaging horoscope service. A fictitious suitor’s name was then sent to the user’s cell phone.
Selis said the company broke the agreement by running similar promotions on sites such as Facebook, PerfSpot.com and True.com. They included more secret crush ads to promote the horoscope service, as well as bogus e-cards aimed at enticing users to install a “MyFunCards” browser toolbar for sending e-cards.
Tatto Media Complaint
Tatto Media Consent Decree
Tatto Media November 2008 Assurance of Discontinuance
Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager – Seattle, (206) 464-6432, firstname.lastname@example.org
Paula Selis, Senior Counsel, (206) 464-7662