Trials & Litigation

Federal judge wants nearly 6,000 potentially fraudulent claims in app settlement to be investigated

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A federal judge in San Francisco has asked prosecutors to investigate nearly 6,000 potentially fraudulent claims in a $5.3 million class action settlement.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar acted on Tuesday in a case filed against Apple and some app makers after the claims administrator found 5,924 suspect claims that did not use unique claim numbers emailed to potential claimants, the Recorder reports.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers said the alleged fraudsters could have reaped $400,000 from the settlement.

The case, Opperman v. Kong Technologies, had alleged Apple allowed app makers to download users’ contact data, Courthouse News Service reported last July. A $5.3 million agreement, reached last year, settled claims against app makers and an abetting claim against Apple. App defendants included Twitter, Instagram and Yelp.

Out of the nearly 6,000 suspect claims for a piece of the settlement pie, 5,419 were submitted by the same IP address, according to a Nov. 30 motion. Those claims used six physical addresses, with minor variations. One address, for example, was for a single-family home in Toledo, Ohio—but listed 976 different apartment numbers.

The other 505 suspect claims were submitted by 11 IP addresses, and nearly all claimed the maximum number of apps. One of those addresses used implausible first names such as “NTXMK CHARLES.”

The claims administrator asked the suspect claimants for proof of identity. Only two responded and neither appeared to be legitimate.

The Recorder spoke with class-action consultant Todd Hilsee of the Hilsee Group, who noted that the case involved electronic claims filing.

The case provides “a window into a practice that is more common now with electronic claims,” he said.

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