Citysearch being sued for ClickFraud

A Los Angeles-based law firm with a history of targeting online media companies for click fraud filed suit Tuesday against Citysearch, the directory site and local online search service, providing information on businesses in the categories of dining, entertainment, retail, travel, and professional services in cities throughout the United States. Visitors to Citysearch's local city guides will find contact information, maps, driving directions, editorial, and user reviews for the businesses listed. The firm, Kabatech Brown Kellner states, "Citysearch.com is defrauding its advertising customers of millions of dollars by not only turning a blind eye to click fraud, but in fact encouraging it as well," The plaintiff is Tom Lambotte but the class action suit seeks to encompasses anyone in the U.S. who paid for pay-per-click advertising space on Citysearch.

According to the complaint, filed in a California court, Lambotte first purchased Citysearch ads in late 2007, didn't see a gain in traffic to his site, and attempted to cancel his ad account. The cancellation process dragged out, he said, and in the meantime his ad clicks started to escalate suspiciously. He speculated that click fraud--in which clicks to ads are meant only to drive up the rate the advertiser pays and not to purchase the product--was at play.

Claims in click fraud lawsuits are hard to prove, but the law firm representing Lambotte has extensive experience in the field. The firm has won against both Yahoo and Google, and attorney Brian Kabateck recently went after Google's AdWords advertising program, claiming that it deceived customers.

The claim is as follows:

“Lambotte’s Citysearch ad received a total of 7 clicks (plus two more that he generated) between December 11 and 25, 2007. On December 26 he received a response from Citysearch to his December 22 request to cancel his ad. Suddenly, his ad began receiving 12 to 16 clicks a day, for a total of 69 clicks between December 26 and December 31, when his ad was finally canceled. He received in these five days 10 times as many clicks as he had received in the previous two weeks. Despite this, Citysearch refused his repeated requests to reverse these charges.”

Excerpts taken from Cnet