SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal class action claims an Atlanta-based spammer bilks wireless customers for $10 a month for "flirting tips" unless they immediately reject a "tip" they never asked for, consented to, or even received.
Lead plaintiff Andrew Humble sued Wise Media LLC, claiming he discovered a $9.99 charge from the company on his January wireless bill.
According to Humble's complaint, Wise Media claims that wireless customers voluntarily subscribe to receive three "flirting tips" text messages per week by enrolling in a short message service (SMS) subscription plan on the company website. The customer is then billed $9.99 per month, on his or her cell phone bill.
"However," Humble says, "the vast majority - if not all - of the subscription plan members did not become members voluntarily.
"Through unknown means, Wise Media obtained the mobile phone numbers of consumers without their knowledge or consent. Defendant obtained these numbers even though consumers had never visited the website, had never expressed interest in defendant or the subscription plan, and had no relationship with the defendant.
"Without any action or solicitation by the consumers, defendant sent SMS texts to the mobile phone numbers that it had acquired.
"On information and belief, defendant sent these SMS texts using equipment that had the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random sequential number generator."
Humble says he received a text message from an unknown sender in January 2012. The message 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. PIN 5WY6."
Because he did not recognize the number, Humble ignored the text, according to his complaint.
Two minutes later, Humble says he received this text: "Lovegenietips: You joined $9.99/m for 3msg/wk bill to cell. Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel Msg&Data rates may apply. T&Cs: lovegenietips.com."
Again, Humble says, he did not respond to the text because he didn't recognize the number.
"Humble had no intention of enrolling in the subscription plan," his complaint states. "In support of this lack of any intention to enroll in the subscription plan, Humble relied on the fact that he did not have a relationship with defendant, had not solicited any goods or services from defendant, and had not responded to any of defendant's texts."
In February, Humble says, he received a third text message from Wise Media. This message stated: "LoveGenieTips: Subsc renewed 1mo. 3msg/wk for $9.99/mo billed to cell. Msg&Data rates may apply. Reply Help for help. Reply Stop to cancel. 888.725.5643."
Humble says he became suspicious and decided to check his bank account and cell phone bill for unauthorized charges. On the last page of his cell phone bill, he noticed a monthly subscription charge, on Jan. 6, for LoveGenieTips in the amount of $9.99. His bill provided the information "Wise Media For assistance contact: http://www.goldenpocket.com."
"Humble never authorized this charge for LoveGenieTips Alerts, which was charged to his cell phone bill the same day and presumably minutes after he received the first SMS text message," his complaint states.
Humble adds: "Defendant's conduct is particularly egregious because not only did defendant involuntarily enroll consumers in a fee-based service, defendant also failed to provide the services it claimed that it was charging consumers for - i.e. the consumers never received the weekly flirting tips."
Humble says the defendant violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and uses fraudulent and unfair business practices. He claims Wise Media also violated the equitable doctrine of money had and received, and committed conversion.
He seeks class damages of whichever is larger: actual monetary loss or $500 for each Telephone Consumer Protection Act violation, plus restitution, damages, and treble damages.
He is represented by Karl Kronenberger, with Kronenberger Rosenfeld.