Zynga on the Hook for|Virtual Currency Ads


     OAKLAND (CN) – A federal judge refused to dismiss a class action accusing online game developer Zynga of duping Facebook users into giving advertisers their phone and credit card numbers in exchange for “virtual currency” used to play “FarmVille” and other games.




     Lead plaintiff Rebecca Swift claimed that Zynga, creator of “FarmVille,” “Mafia Wars,” “YoVille!” and other Facebook games, misled her into giving her phone number and credit card information to advertisers for some virtual cash.
     Swift allegedly received a “code” to redeem for “YoCash,” virtual currency used to make purchases in “YoVille!”
     Swift said she was “not informed that providing her cell phone number would result in charges to her cell phone bill.” She claimed that since April 2009, $9.99 was charged to her cell phone bill without her knowledge four times.
     For more YoCash, Swift agreed to participate in a free trial for a green tea herbal supplement, again providing the Zynga advertiser with her credit card information. Though she tried to cancel the trial before it ended, Swift said she was charged more than $165 for the products.
     Zynga asked a federal judge to dismiss the class action, arguing that it was not responsible for the actions of its third-party advertisers.
     U.S. District Judge Sandra Armstrong disagreed, ruling that Zynga is not immune from suit and that Swift has “sufficiently alleged Zynga’s role in the fraudulent scheme.”
     Armstrong concluded that because Zynga designs its games to be more enjoyable with the accumulation of virtual money, “the lure of virtual currency is the most important ‘content’ within the special offer because, without it, it is unlikely any user would ever participate in the offers.”

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