After being contacted by fans who felt cheated, U.S. consumer attorneys 1-800-Law-Firm filed a class action lawsuit (from an unspecified number of individuals) at the U.S. Federal Court in Detroit, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) act, against pop star Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta); Live Nation Merchandising, Universal Music and a number of Gaga's business ventures are also named too.
The suit is to the sum of £3.1 million and alleges Lady Gaga profited from her own charity wristband, sold to help the victims of the Japanese earthquake. Gaga is accused of grossly overcharging for shipping costs and wrongly putting sales taxes on what should have been a charitable donation, in addition to keeping as profit some of the money paid for the wristband itself despite assurances to fans that all the money would go direct to Japan.
The lawsuit cites a "deceptive advertising campaign" and "pattern of racketeering" utilized by the involved parties to persuade the unsuspecting public to buy the $5 (£3.10) wristband through her official website. Furthermore, fans were charged £2.50 ($1.55) for shipping when the real cost was 31p (50 cents) - with the difference being kept by Gaga and her associates.
The lawsuit states that the Bad Romance singer "then used the inflacted financials to solicit additional 'donations' as evidence of the good they were doing." The overall sum raised so far is unknown.
The wristband is still for sale on Gaga's official merchandising website with the caption: 'Little Mosnters, show your support for Japan with this "We Pray For Japan" wristband!' 'Choose your price to add an additional donation with your wristband. All proceeds go directly to Japan relief efforts.".
Whereas most stars encourage fans to donate to established charities, Lady Gaga took it upon herself to collect the money and (allegedly) did not turn it over, exposing herself to these charges. Gaga and the other parties have 30 days to respond.
Stay tuned for further developments.