Cyberfraud Task Force Reaches $1 Million Agreement Over Internet Marketing Guidelines

TALLAHASSEE, FL – LAWFUEL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that
his CyberFraud Task Force has reached a $1 million settlement with a
Delaware company operating out of Florida. World Avenue, LLC, promotes
internet-marketed goods and services, particularly free gifts to consumers
who sign up for offers on the internet. The agreement creates new
marketing requirements for the use of the word “free” in online
advertising. The company has already provided reimbursements or
appropriate restitution to potentially affected consumers.

“Consumers have long been victimized by online marketers’ deceptive
use of the word “free” as an inducement for the purchase of goods and
services and today’s agreement makes great strides against that trend,”
said Attorney General Bill McCollum. “Online marketers should be required
to clearly and conspicuously disclose all material terms and conditions
related to the receipt of any item marketed as free.”

The agreement resolves litigation filed by the Attorney General’s
Economic Crimes Division in August 2007. That lawsuit alleged the
company’s advertising may have deceived consumers about offers of “free”
gifts or prizes. An investigation revealed that consumers typically
encountered the company through e-mail solicitations, internet “pop-up”
windows, or paid advertisements linked to Google and other search engines.
The advertisements conveyed that consumers could receive “free”
merchandise if certain program requirements are met. The Attorney
General’s investigation focused on determining whether or not the
promotional merchandise was actually “free,” and, if not, determining
whether the terms and conditions for receiving the promotional items were
clearly and conspicuously disclosed, in a manner which would not be likely
to mislead consumers.

The agreement reached today by the CyberFraud Task Force specifies
that companies must disclose all information necessary to consumers so
they can make an informed decision. The cooperative agreement also
provides that World Avenue will pay $1 million to enable the Attorney
General to continue establishing high standards of practice for the
internet marketing industry and to reimburse the cost of the state’s
investigation. As part of restitution to consumers, the company has also
provided the “inducement item,” the item advertised as free to entice the
consumer, to all customers who complained about the company’s practices.

The CyberFraud Task Force was created to use a team approach to
review and investigate complaints against companies or individuals found
taking advantage of consumers through internet-related fraud. Consumers
who believe they have been victimized by unauthorized billing for internet
products should contact the Attorney General’s Citizen Services Division
by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) or by filing a complaint
online at McCollum’s Task Force continues to
lead the nation in consumer protection on the internet and today’s
agreement further protects Florida citizens from deceptive online

A copy of the agreement with World Avenues is available online at:$file/NiuTechAVC.pdf

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