According to Adweek, the at least $40 million lawsuit was filed on Monday in United States District Court in San Francisco after the ride-sharing app discovered the alleged fraudulent activities when canceling a campaign running on conservative website Breitbart.
“With Fetch, we learned the age-old lesson ‘buyer beware’ the hard way,” the company said in a statement. “Fetch was running a wild west of online advertising fraud.”
James Connelly, Fetch founder and CEO, called the allegations “unsubstantiated, completely without merit and purposefully inflammatory, so as to draw attention away from Uber’s unprofessional behavior and failure to pay suppliers.”
He then went on to allege that the main reason for the Uber lawsuit is so Uber won’t have to pay Fetch for its services.
“Following months of non-payment, Uber eventually raised unsubstantiated claims relating to ad fraud as a reason not to pay its invoices, but there is no basis to these claims,” Connelly said. “Fetch not only delivered Uber’s strategic goals, helping it acquire over 37 million new users since 2014, but also achieved an outstanding rating from the client throughout the two-year relationship. In the same period, Fetch advised Uber on tactics to reduce ad fraud in mobile advertising.”
Fetch is part of the world’s fourth-largest advertising company, Dentsu Aegis Network, which was not named in the lawsuit. The ad industry has suffered from digital fraud and other billing issues in recent years, with ad fraud costing brands an estimated $16.4 billion globally this year.
This is just the latest legal drama for Uber, which has at least three federal investigations currently examining its practices. And one of its early investors, Benchmark, filed suit against Uber’s former CEO (and current board member) Travis Kalanick last year’s change to the board structure that expanded the number of voting directors by three, with Kalanick having the sole right to fill those seats.
Benchmark has accused Kalanick of hiding a number of misdeeds when he asked Uber’s board to give him those extra seats, including allegations of trade-secret theft involving autonomous car technology and misconduct by Kalanick and other executives in handling a rape committed by an Uber driver in India.