Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Vertrue, MasterCard, MyLife.com, Oak Investment, and Others Regarding Allegedly Fraudulent “Membership" Fees for Bogus "Savings Clubs"

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Lawsuit claims that Defendants profit from charging consumers fraudulent fees for savings club “memberships”

Atlanta law firm Webb, Klase & Lemond, LLC has filed a class action lawsuit against Vertrue, Inc., Adaptive Marketing, LLC, Velo Holdings, MasterCard International, Inc., MyLife.com, Inc., and Oak Investment Partners. The suit states that Vertrue partners with MyLife.com and other deceptive online businesses to trick consumers into unknowingly joining Vertrue’s “consumer savings clubs.”

According to the lawsuit, most club “members” never make use of their savings club “memberships” and cancel their subscriptions immediately upon learning of the fraudulent charges. According to the lawsuit, MasterCard earns fees by processing Vertrue’s charges while knowing they are fraudulent and processing such plainly illegitimate charges violates MasterCard’s agreements.

The lawsuit further states that Vertrue’s parent company, Velo Holdings, and MyLife.com’s investor-owner Oak Investment Partners, which invested $25 million in MyLife in 2007, also participate in Vertrue’s improper practices. The case, Chi v. Vertrue, Inc., et al., was filed in the United States District Court of the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, on February 28, 2014 and has been given case number 1:14-cv-00614-TWT.

The lawsuit proposes a class action on behalf of all consumers nationally who have been harmed by these practices.

The new complaint alleges that Vertrue’s “savings clubs,” administered by its subsidiaries such as Adaptive Marketing, LLC, include At Home Rewards, At Home Rewards+, BusinessMax, Cross Country Savings, DealMax, Home Savings Mall, Food and Flix, Getaway and Save, Leisure Exclusives, My Great Deals, Passport to Fun, Passport to Fun+, SavingsAce, SavingSmart, Shopping Essentials, Shopping Essentials+, Simply You, Today’s Escapes, Today’s Escapes+, ValueMax, and Your Savings Club.

The lawsuit states that when consumers purchase goods and services from MyLife.com and Vertrue’s other online partners they encounter confusing, obscured ads for Vertrue’s “savings clubs.” Consumers click through these ads without realizing that they have accidentally “joined” one of Vertrue’s clubs, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also states that consumers who accidentally join Vertrue’s clubs are charged recurring monthly fees of $20 or more until they affirmatively cancel their “memberships.” Vertrue’s entire business model is based around this deceptive practice, and Vertrue’s co-conspirators, including MasterCard, knowingly facilitate and profit from Vertrue’s fraudulent activities. The lawsuit states that MasterCard approves such unauthorized charges, and profits from them, even though this violates MasterCard’s own rules regarding protection of private customer credit card data.

The suit asserts that the other Defendants are vital to the improper billing scheme. First, Vertrue transmits a consumer’s credit card data to the related credit card network, which the complaint alleges was MasterCard. MasterCard verifies the consumer’s identity and, the lawsuit states, analyzes the transaction to determine whether it is fraudulent. MasterCard transmits the relevant data to the cardholder’s issuing bank which, if it authorizes the charge, sends a verification message to MasterCard, which then informs the issuing bank that the charge has been authorized, according to the suit. The suit claims that the issuing bank then informs Vertrue of the authorization, at which point the purchase is completed and the issuing bank and MasterCard subsequently “clear” and “settle” all of Vertrue’s charges for that day, at which point the illicitly obtained funds are sent to Vertrue. The suit contends that all the Defendants are well aware of the illegal scheme, but they nonetheless participate in order to obtain substantial transaction fees.

Vertrue is a subsidiary of Velo Holdings, an investment group also named as a Defendant in the lawsuit, that acquired Vertrue in 2007. According to the lawsuit, Velo and Oak Investment, MyLife.com’s senior investor-owner, were fully aware that Vertrue’s business model relied on consumer fraud when they acquired their positions in these online companies. The suit asserts that these investors nevertheless controlled, participated in, and profited from Vertrue and MyLife for years while doing nothing to curb the companies’ highly illegal business practices.

If you have unknowingly joined one of Vertrue’s savings clubs and wish to discuss this action, or if you have any questions concerning this press release, please contact Webb, Klase & Lemond by e-mail at contact@WebbLLC.com or by calling (770) 444-9325. Webb, Klase & Lemond, LLC is a law firm that practices complex litigation with a focus on litigation arising from wrongful deprivations by corporate and government entities.

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Franklin Lemond
Webb, Klase & Lemond LLC
+1 (770) 444-9325
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