Google and DJs in the Hudson Valley and across New York State are accused of "showing a blatant disrespect for truth-in-advertising rules."

On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office, along with officials from five other states and the FTC, secured $9.4 million from Google and iHeartMedia for airing misleading ads about a Google device.

New York Attorney General James Secures $9.4 Million from Google and iHeartMedia over Misleading Ads

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Google paid radio personalities to record endorsement ads about how much they loved using Google's Pixel 4 cellphone. However, the radio personalities never used phones before recording or running the ads.

The "misleading" ads ran over 23,000 times in 10 markets, including New York State, officials say.

“Google and iHeartMedia knowingly misled the public through inaccurate ads to turn a profit,” James said. “False advertising is a fraud against the public. Companies big and small have a responsibility to be honest about their products and follow the law, there are no exceptions. Consumers deserve to know the truth about products before making any purchases.”

Google, iHeartMedia To Pay New York State Nearly $1.6 million

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Google and iHeartMedia will pay more than $9.4 million in penalties. $1.58 million of that money will go to New York State.

“Google and iHeartMedia paid influencers to promote products they never used, showing a blatant disrespect for truth-in-advertising rules,” FTC Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine said. “The FTC will not stop working with our partners in the states to crack down on deceptive ads and ensure firms that break the rules pay a price.”

iHeartMedia has more than 850 radio stations across the U.S. iHeartMedia is the largest owner of radio stations in the United States, according to the FTC.

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Google Paid Radio Personalities to Record and Air Endorsement Ads for Google Pixel 4 despite Never Using the Phone

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Over 4,000 "misleading" ads ran in New York. In the 2019 ads, radio personalities talked about how much they enjoyed using the phone, despite the Pixel 4 not yet being sold in stores.

Google did not give phones to any of the stations before the ads were recorded so the radio personalities could not share truthful statements about the phones, officials say.

One ad stated:

“The only thing I love more than taking the perfect photo? Taking the perfect photo at night. With Google Pixel 4 both are a cinch. It’s my favorite phone camera out there, especially in low light, thanks to Night Sight Mode. I’ve been taking studio-like photos of everything… my son’s football game… a meteor shower… a rare spotted owl that landed in my backyard.”

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New York will receive $1,524,621 from Google and $56,767 from iHeartMedia.

New York was joined by Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, and Massachusetts in the settlement against Google. Texas also joined the group in its settlement against iHeartMedia.

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