Cuomo: Big Name Companies Linked To Online Scam


cuomoAs many as 22 big name companies are accused of taking part in an online scam that has millions of people owing monthly charges to companies they never even heard of.

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is reviewing the actions of Barnes & Noble, Staples, Avon, GameStop, Orbitz, 1-800 and 16 others. His investigators say the companies have successfully lured millions of their online customers with special coupon or cash-back award offers.

But then customers are redirected to a third party site, where in fine print it says the customer is joining a club with monthly fees run by Webloyalty, Affinion, Trilegiant or Vertrue. Their take has been more than $1 billion so far.

Fordham University Law Professor Joel Reidenberg said, “You’ve got to read three pages of fine print to realize you are going to be charged $120 a year to get coupons.”

Bay Ridge resident Eileen Gibson said after making an online purchase from Barnes & Noble she unwittingly enrolled with Webloyalty, and owed more than $12 a month.

“I think it’s theft. It’s dishonest and it’s a public disgrace,” Gibson said.

She emailed and called Barnes & Noble and Webloyalty and felt ignored. Then she called the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General became involved.

Cuomo’s message to the merchants: don’t deceive customers and stop getting kickbacks from the discount program sellers. And to consumers he advises be hyper aware and always read the fine print.

Barnes & Noble responded with a statement from William Lynch, President, of Barnes &

“We welcome the attorney general’s review because it will show that Barnes & Noble does not, nor has it ever, shared customer debit or credit card information with discount clubs,” Lynch said.

Cuomo’s office said one of the 22 companies, Fandango, has already agreed to permanently end its relationship with the discount program.

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