US Magistrate Judge Joseph Marutollo has granted a request from plaintiffs’ lawyers to investigate a website disseminating what they claim is “false and misleading” information about the $5.6 billion settlement reached between retailers and credit card giants Visa and Mastercard. The unauthorized website closely resembles the official U.S. court-authorized page established as part of the 2019 settlement in the Brooklyn, New York, federal court.
Judge Marutollo’s order, issued on Friday, paves the way for a thorough examination of the website, with the potential outcome of shutting it down and voiding any client contracts originating from it. The judge has set a deadline for the website to respond to inquiries. As of now, there has been no immediate response from the website’s representatives to the inquiry from Reuters.
Fraudulent activities surrounding major class-action settlements are not uncommon. In recent months, similar claims have arisen in other cases, such as the $6 billion settlement in the 3M earplugs lawsuit and the multibillion-dollar litigation in North Carolina over contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, per Reuters.
In the Visa and Mastercard case, retailers accused the credit card companies of overcharging them on fees associated with credit and debit card transactions. Despite the companies denying any wrongdoing, a U.S. appeals court upheld the multibillion-dollar settlement in March.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers raised concerns about the unauthorized website in a filing on Nov. 3, describing it as “highly suspicious.” They brought it to the court’s attention after being alerted by a company that claimed to have received a voicemail purportedly from prominent rap artist Snoop Dogg endorsing the page. Snoop Dogg’s business team has not yet responded to requests for comment as of Monday.