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Friday, November 20, 2009

'Mafia Wars' Game Designer, Facebook Forced to Go to Legal Mattresses

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 12:59 PM

click to enlarge What is this YoCash of which you speak, Luca?
  • What is this YoCash of which you speak, Luca?
A class action lawsuit filed this week claims that Zynga Game Network, a San Francisco-based company that develops games for Facebook, lured unsuspecting customers into handing over their cell phone and debit card numbers with "special offers" and other irresistible promises. Zynga created games like Mafia Wars, YoVille!, FarmVille, and Poker, which are free to play for  social networking site subscribers -- free, that is, until you give away your cell phone and debit card number.

Lead plaintiff Rebecca Swift, from Santa Cruz claims that last April she provided the company with her cell number to receive a text from the company with a code that she could then exchange for "YoCash," which is a kind of virtual currency in the YoVille! game. Swift claims she got her YoCash, but she also got four unexpected charges for $9.99 on her phone bill.

But apparently that wasn't enough to stop Swift from stepping right into another money trap. In June, she clicked on an ad promising more YoCash if she participated in a "risk-free Green Tea Purity Trial." According to the suit, the ad indicated she could cancel the trial within 15 days, so (understandably hungry for more YoCash; who wouldn't be?) she provided the company with her debit card number. But Swift claims that even though she sent an e-mail to the Green Tea manufacturer in China within 15 days, she was charged nearly $200 for two shipments of supplements she says were waaaay not worth that much. 

Swift and more than 100,000 others the suit claims were scammed are asking for more than $5 million from Facebook and Zynga, which the plaintiff claims profited from the duping. Zynga hasn't exactly denied that they misled customers to make money -- one of the lawsuit's highlights is a quote from a speech given by Zynga CEO Mark Pincus: "I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to just get revenues right away. I mean, we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this wiki toolbar, which was like ... I don't know. I downloaded it once and couldn't get rid of it. We did anything possible just to get revenues so that we could grow and be a real business."

D'oh. Here comes a real lawsuit.

H/T   |   Courthouse News



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