Global mobile maker Jesta Digital will provide refunds to a large number of consumers and pay an additional USD 1.2 million to the Federal Trade Commission as part of a settlement with the FTC, which alleged that Jesta crammed unwanted charges onto consumers' mobile phone bills. According to the Commission's complaint, Jesta, which also does business as Jamster, ran phony virus-scan ads on consumers' Android mobile devices while they played the Angry Birds mobile app. The ads falsely claimed that a virus was detected on the consumer's mobile device. The ads incorporated an image of a robot designed to look similar to the Android operating system's robot logo. When consumers clicked on the ads, Jesta presented them with a series of screens or landing pages that included bold and prominent language and visuals about protecting Android mobile devices from viruses. While a screen contained a subscriber button, the FTC alleged that if consumers clicked anywhere on the screens or landing pages, Jesta charged them USD 9.99 per month directly on their mobile bill for ringtones and other mobile content. If consumers actually attempted to subscribe and download Jesta's so-called anti-virus software to their mobile devices, the download often failed, according to the FTC complaint. Jesta charged unsuspecting consumers through a novel, little-used billing method known as Wireless Access Protocol, or WAP, billing. WAP billing captures a consumer's mobile phone bill without the need to obtain information manually from the computer. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Jesta is prohibited from making deceptive statements about viruses and anti-virus software, the cost of goods or services, or the conditions of a purchase. Jesta must also receive express verifiable authorisation from a consumer before placing any charges on a consumer's mobile phone bill. Jesta is required to automatically provide full refunds to consumers who were billed between 8 December 2011, and the date of the entry of the order for any good or service that involved the company claiming the consumer's device was infected with malware or that Jesta would provide purchasers with software to protect their mobile device from malware.
For those consumers Jesta charged between 1 August and 7 December 2011, under short code 75555 (which includes the marketing campaign challenged in the complaint), Jesta is required to notify those consumers of their ability to obtain a refund. Consumers will have to contact Jesta at 866-856-5267 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and make a refund request. Jesta is obligated to pay a refund to consumers who did not use the service offered by Jesta or where the charges were incurred by a child under the age of 18. In addition to provide timely refunds directly to consumers, Jesta will pay USD 1.2 million directly to the Commission. The Commission vote authorising the staff to file the complaint and approving the proposed stipluated final order was 4-0.The FTC filed the complaint and proposed order in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. The proposed order is subject to court approval.