PR firm settles FTC suit over iTunes game reviews

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted Nov. 26, 2010 at 1:31 p.m.

The Federal Trade Commission said Friday that it has settled charges that a California public-relations firm posted fake video game reviews on Apple Inc.’s  iTunes Store.

According to an FTC complaint, employees of California-based Reverb Communications Inc. allegedly engaged in deceptive online advertising by having paid employees and company managers pose as consumers and write glowing video game reviews of clients’ games.

The FTC voted 5-0 to approve the settlement requiring Reverb and its owner Tracie Snitker to remove misleading endorsements, the FTC said in Friday’s notice.

The order also prohibits Reverb and Snitker from making future endorsements about a product unless they disclose relevant connections they have with the seller.

In its complaint, the FTC said employees of Reverb, which often receives a percentage of the sales of its clients’ gaming applications, often gave gaming applications four- and five-star ratings online.

In the fake reviews, Reverb employees described games as “amazing” and “really cool,” according to the complaint.

“These reviews were posted using account names that would give the readers of these reviews the impression they had been submitted by disinterested consumers,” the complaint said.

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