Reading, especially the “fine print,” has never been an American strong suit.
That trend continues in California, where a court is allowing a woman’s $10 million lawsuit to proceed against Toyota after she unwittingly agreed to take part in an elaborate online advertising hoax.
Wired Magazine reports Amanda Duick sued the carmaker in 2009 after she began receiving “frightening” e-mails from a stranger who appeared to know her personal details.
Duick was unknowingly signed up for Toyota’s bizarre advertising stunt by a friend, who selected one of five fictional characters to send her “stalker” emails.
She was sent a link to a “personality test” and agreed to the website’s terms and conditions, which stated she would receive emails for up to five days.
Shortly therafter, “Sebastian Bowler,” who claimed to be 25-year-old Englishman and soccer fanatic with a drinking problem, began emailing Duick.
According to court documents, the first email read: “Amber mate! Coming 2 Los Angeles. Gonna lay low at your place for a bit. Till it all blows over. Bringing Trigger.”
A link to a fake MySpace page showed “Sebastian” and Trigger, a large pit bull.
The following day she got an email including her previous home address, describing it as a “Nice place to hide out,” and advising her that “Trigger don’t throw up much anymore, but put some newspaper down in case.”
The messages grew more alarming.
“Had a brush with the law last night. Anyway, hopefully I’ll have lost them by the time I get to your place.”
One message said Sebastian ” … ran into a little problem at the hotel,” and Duick subsequently received an email from an individual identifying himself as “Jimmy Citro,” purporting to be the manager of a motel and billing Duick for the damage Bowler had done to the motel’s property.
The final email included a link to a video revealing the elaborate prank was just an advertising campaign for the Toyota Matrix.
I’m guessing Duick won’t be buying a Toyota anytime soon.