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Uber sues Dentsu agency over allegations of fraud and negligence

Ridesharing service Uber has launched legal action in the US against its mobile agency Fetch, alleging fraud on the part of the Dentsu-owned company.

According to the lawsuit – reported overnight by the Wall Street Journal – the UK-based agency’s remuneration was partly based on each new download of the Uber app. Uber alleges that the agency wrongly attributed successful installations to ads which had not even been viewed.

The lawsuit claims Fetch paid “tens of millions” of dollars for non viewable advertisements, along with buying space on sites that didn’t exist. Uber also claims it should have been passed on volume rebates given by media owners to the agency.

“With Fetch, we learned the age-old lesson ‘buyer beware’ the hard way,” Uber said in a statement to the WSJ. “Fetch was running a wild west of online advertising fraud, allowing Uber ads on websites we wanted nothing to do with, and fraudulently claiming credit for app downloads that happened without a customer ever clicking on an ad.”

According to the court documents, alarm bells began to ring for Uber when it suspended its mobile advertising after concerns that ads were wrongly appearing on controversial sites like Breitbart, but installations continued at the same rate.

“Fetch received substantial, unearned compensation from Uber and allowed networks and publishers to take credit for Uber App installs that would have happened regardless of advertising,” Uber alleged.

Fetch, which denies the allegations, has no Australian presence, and there is no suggestion that its local Australian agencies have behaved in a similar fashion to the overseas claims.  Uber Australia had not responded to Mumbrella’s invitation to comment at the time of posting.

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