Woman suing Toyota for ’stalker’ ad campaign

Reading, especially the “fine print,” has never been an American strong suit.

The "Your Other You" website was designed to appeal to "young men who love to play pranks on each other."

The "Your Other You" website was designed to appeal to "young men who love to play pranks on each other."

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.

* Read the Wired article.

64 comments Add your comment

beenthere

September 17th, 2011
9:33 am

If you have ever been stalked you would be more empathetic to this woman. As to “she agreed to terms & conditions” -her frind signed her up- the fact is a multimillion dollar corporation should be educated enough to acknowledge stalking is not a joke. Especially worse as the profile of the stalker was menacing & he had knowledge of her private info. Whoever was sending the “stunt” emails was intentionally trying to scare her.Yes she should have read the fine print BUT toyota Never should have ran this campaign to begin with. I had a stalker who was legally allowed to walk up and down the sidewalk in front of my home as long as he didn’t sit it was legal. The cops told me find someone to beat him us because they had no way to stop him. That was before stalking laws went into effect. It is no joke living in fear of a creep. This lawsuit isn’t about the money – face it only the lawyers will make the money here. This lawsuit is about personal safety being threatened.This was a delibrate stunt to instill fear. There are far more easier ways to have fun & sell cars in a new unique approach. Are toyotas even made in the USA?
By the way my friends sister was shot to death by her stalker at 19 years old, much like the actress that was murdered when she opened the door & was shot in the face. Thats why there are laws now. People STILL die or are abused or are raped by stalkers. Toyota should be made to contribute to abused & battered shelters & the actual participants sending the emails should get community service with these families.

Mikeg

September 17th, 2011
11:01 am

If brains were dynamite, she wouldn’t have enough to blow her nose.

Ed Norton

September 17th, 2011
2:14 pm

It’s guaranteed this is not the entire story. Campaigns like this are much more transparent, and I’m sure it will prove true that in the e-mail there was reference to Toyota. When this woman loses, there should be a law in place making it mandatory she and her attorney serve 1 year in jail for frivolous lawsuit.

Tom

September 17th, 2011
2:59 pm

So what am I missing here. It was the friend that thought it would be funny and sign her up for the ad campaign. Sue the friend.

Just Fun

September 17th, 2011
3:02 pm

Wow 10 million …. can’t win the lotto just continue to sue… wonder which GM backed lawyer is fighting her case. Remember who sued them recently none other than the president to get GM back in business…

She should forget the 10 million and ask for a Toyota Prius will save her 10 million on Gas…. : )

Greg

September 17th, 2011
3:06 pm

The friend who signed herr up should be responscible as much as toyota. Then the judge should split the verdict between the friend and toyota making toyota no more fiscally responscible then the friend is able to pay. Make the friend pay their half first. After that verdict there should be criminal charges filed on the friend for fraud. If they are good friends the case would get dropped instantly

Lena

September 17th, 2011
3:23 pm

“she unwittingly agreed to take part ” For all of those who don’t see her point, she most certainly did NOT agree to be stalked. I’m sure cyberstalking and terrorism weren’t part of the fine print. Judgement for her, let’s hope.

(By the way, I love my Toyota; but this is not the way to sell cars. Jeez, our Prius gets over 50mpg. You would think that should be enough to keep them flying off the lot.)

Lena

September 17th, 2011
3:28 pm

“beenthere” I am assuming you are female. Every female I know has, at one time or another, attracted someone who could be considered a stalker. But, I only personally know of one male who has. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the negative comments here are from men who don’t remotely understand what this is about. For a lot of women, stalking and harassment are all too common.

janeMarek

September 17th, 2011
3:55 pm

Toyota – How dumb is this company? What a no class promotion program, they actually pay people to do stuff like this. I hope she gets 10X what she is asking to teach them to wake up.

Nick

September 17th, 2011
4:09 pm

I need ten million dollars too.

Terd Ferguson

September 17th, 2011
6:58 pm

So exactly how is that supposed to get people to buy a Toyota? Now along with the thought of brakes giving out and the accelerator sticking to the floor I’ve been imprinted with the vision of a British convict and his pitbull driving a Matrix.

Mike

September 19th, 2011
2:41 pm

@minnie – true.

SooooConfused

September 19th, 2011
4:42 pm

I hope she wins $1 and has to split that with her attorneys. She is getting bad advice. Since the courts in Cali are obviously allowing the suit to proceed. Next up for Amanda, buying hot coffee in a golden arches drive through restaurant.

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March 28th, 2012
8:03 pm

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