Sandra Bullock and Ellen DeGeneres are teaming up against fake endorsement ads.
The duo filed a joint lawsuit in LA Superior Court Wednesday to “expose the Celebrity Endorsement Theft Industry, which … exploits the names, images, likenesses and personas of well-known celebrities who have not authorized or been compensated for such use,” according to the suit obtained by USA TODAY.
The lawsuit claims Bullock and DeGeneres are repeatedly targeted by online scams that use their likeliness to hawk beauty and anti-aging products to unsuspecting customers.
“They are targeted because of their age, their unimpeachable reputation for honesty and having worked hard at maintaining a healthy and youthful look, which con artists believe will attract and dupe unwitting customers into getting bilked by giving up their credit card information,” the lawsuit adds.
The online scams trick customers into signing up for undisclosed recurring auto-payments by offering a “trial offer” for the apparent celebrity-backed products.
For example, one advertisement for Alessa Serum used a fabricated endorsement from DeGeneres. She allegedly said, “I refuse to wear a lot of makeup and thanks to Alessa Serum I don’t need to. My skin has never looked better and it looks younger than it did 10 years ago. I love waking up knowing I don’t need to bother trying to cover up my skin.”
The lawsuit says DeGeneres has never used Alessa Serum and didn’t make that statement.
“Like Whack-A-Mole, for each fake site exposed, another one pops up,” said Michael Kump and Michael Weinsten, the attorneys for Bullock and DeGeneres, respectively.
They continued: “The complaint exposes the scam and how it works so people can avoid getting trapped in it, and provides a way to identify those responsible and profiting from it so they can be stopped and held to account.”
Due to the sophisticated nature of the schemes, Bullock and DeGeneres don’t know the identities of the perpetrators behind the fake ads, so they filed the lawsuit against “unnamed Defendants Does 1 through 100.”
The lawsuit will be amended to add the names of defendants, who are being sued for false advertising, unfair competition and for violating the stars’ right to publicity.
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