State Of Florida Investigating Ringtone Offers

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I first heard about this story from Shawn Collins affiliate blog Then shortly after there was various affiliates who claimed there house had been raided in a sting …. or made it sound at least that they were knocking on affiliates door steps giving them the grand inquisitions. OK that sounds scary… Ive promoted a few ringtone offers myself so I waned to find out the real deal first hand.

This morning I spoke with the lead investigators for these cases (yes there is more then 1 case active). It turns out they are following up on civil complaints against Blinko and Jamster on how the offers were promoted. I also located the open cases on the Florida Attorney Generals Office: Jamster (owned by Verisign) and Blinko

They said at this time it is a civil action (not criminal). They named Shawn Collins and Jon as well as affiliate networks like Azoogleads who came forward in cooperation to help them understand the industry. They were very clear they are not raiding houses or breaking down doors or knocking on random people who are promoting ringtone offers.

They asked me to reach out to any longtime affiliates who have knowledge of how Blinko or Jamster offers have been promoted to please give them a call (850) 766-2889. Ask for either Robert Schara or Jon Gillman.

So could we see some affiliates going to jail over this? Well again at this point it is just a civil action but I suspect it could turn criminal very fast if specific people were found to be fraudulently representing offers.

I think over all its a good thing for our industry.

20 thoughts on “State Of Florida Investigating Ringtone Offers

  1. SonicReducer

    I think this is totally a good thing for our industry. If it shakes out a few of the idiots scamming the system, it will only benfit legitimate affiliates in the long run. Personally, I don’t even touch the “free” or “complimentary” words anymore.

  2. morgan thomas

    so basically they are trying to go after people who misrepresented ringtone ads in order to trick people into signing up for them so they could get a lead?

  3. andrew

    I might be wrong about this, the only dealings I have had with ringtone affiliates are reading about them here and on DP. But isn’t the whole ringtone industry misrepresenting thier product? Even the TV ads are. It is made to seem as you are just getting ringtones for free or just paying for one, when it is actually a recurring membership that doesn’t stop until you dig through the bullshit and make it.

  4. monks

    I think this is what got the Girls Gone Wild owner Joseph Francis in trouble. Double opt in. Now there are disclaimers everywhere that it is a monthly membership that will be billed automatically.

    For the most part, I agree with everyone supporting this action to clean up the industry…i am skeptical that because of the investigators lack of understanding…it could become a witch hunt.

    Thanks to everyone offering their knowledge to investigators…let’s keep them educated and inocent people away from expensive defense attorney retainers.

  5. Lee Bandoni

    As you know the UK ringtone market matured later 2005 when Jamster were advertising on every second advertising spot. People were going crazy that they were offering a “free trial” with very little telling them that they were subscribing to a £3 a week service.

    After tens of thousands of complaints and major TV coverage Jamster was sold and this is when they moved into the US market in a big way.

  6. Pingback: Jon crazy? ...... - WickedFire - Internet Marketing Affiliate Webmaster Forum

  7. SUP3RNOVA

    Very interesting, I think it’s a good thing as well. As long as people don’t start getting cranky about offers that aren’t misleading, but people claim they are

    I can see a teen telling pop “The word BONUS was in bigger font than the $9.99…I swear! Sue the bastards!”

  8. CPA Affiliates

    I think as with anything you have to read what you signup for. But i have heard and even seen cases were people used CSS layers to where they never even saw the real signup page, they had the signup details that it would be a monthly charge covered up so all they saw was an overlay saying free ringtones except the number input part and the submit button everything else was covered up.

  9. Travis Cannell

    This is actually good for some of the little ringtone affiliate players out there like myself. I always hated complying with the TOS by removing the terms “Free, No Cost” etc from an ad when my competition clearly wasn’t following suit. Makes it a little harder to compete and slims the margins up for a lot of markets.

  10. Roger

    t’s amazing what some affiliates still get away with these days when they market ringtones. Even though there are tons of notices out there that you are not allowed to market on search engines using “free” in your headlines or ads, you still see ads for FREE Ringtones from people like http://www.tonesonthenet.com and ads with domains like http://www.totally-free-ringtones.net etc.. Even ringtone companies themselves seem to be getting around the “rules” by creating ads that say Hassle-Free Ringtones. All these guys are at the top of search results because their ads get a much higher CTR than publishers that are doing the right thing and are staying away from using the word “free”. I agree with shoemoney, once all these bad players are gone, all of us will get more traffic. Hopefully this investigation will make all these guys stop

  11. Jon

    I’m not a narc, and they didn’t raid my house either. They just came by to ask some questions to better understand how the affiliate marketing industry works. Same with Shawn, and same with asking AzoogleAds about ringtones, since they know more about that stuff than I would.

  12. RapidWeb

    This may be better for the smaller affiliate ring tone people but personally can’t understand why its been blown right out of proportion.

    Do fast food outlets get questioned because their burgers and fries don’t look as they are advertised?

    False advertising is every where thats why there is TOS on all sites somewhere in the smallest font possible, but its still there!

  13. Duncan

    Maybe the system works differently in the States to here in Australia, but what exactly is the Government doing involved in a civil matter? Wouldn’t a civil case be between the two parties involved, not the state?

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