Herman Gerel LLP: Aaron’s Inc. Faces More Computer Spyware Allegations
ATLANTA, June 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Aaron’s Inc. and a franchisee secretly collected thousands of screen shots and key stroke logs from computers leased to two Colorado attorneys, a class action lawsuit filed in Atlanta federal court today by Herman Gerel LLP and co-counsel alleges.
Lawyers Michael Peterson and Matthew Lyons, who leased several computers from Aspen Way Enterprises, Inc., an Aaron’s franchisee, in Fort Collins, Colo., accuse the companies of remotely capturing 4,702 screen shots, and 2,464 key log entries with undetectable software. The images and logs include attorney work product and privileged communications regarding the lawyers’ clients in 2010 and 2011, according to the lawsuit.
The surveillance was not disclosed to the lawyers or other consumers that rented, leased or purchased computers through Aaron’s franchises, the lawsuit asserts. The allegations include invasion of privacy, computer trespass, and computer invasion of privacy.
Mr. Peterson and Mr. Lyons are represented by Herman Gerel LLP, of Atlanta; Jamieson & Robinson, LLC, of Casper and Jackson, Wyo.; The Spence Law Firm, LLC, of Jackson, Wyo.; and Levin, Fishbein, Sedran and Berman, of Philadelphia.
The plaintiffs’ legal team seeks to have the lawsuit certified as a class action to include customers who have rented, leased and/or purchased one or more computers from Aspen Way Enterprises, Inc., and on whose computers PC Rental Agent® spyware was installed without such persons’ consent on or after Jan. 1, 2010.
Information collected, transmitted and stored by Aaron’s corporate servers allegedly includes financial and other personal information, such as credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, security codes, pin numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, birth dates, identity of children and their personal and school records, tax returns, personal health information, employment records, bank account records, email addresses, log-in credentials, answers to security questions, and private communications with health care providers, therapists, attorneys, and others.
Andrea S. Hirsch, of Herman Gerel LLP, said, “The fight for consumers who were spied upon at the direction of Aaron’s Inc. continues. While the company still refuses to reveal the scope of the spying on its customers, this new lawsuit shows one frightening consequence of the surveillance: privileged attorney-client communications were compromised.”
Maury A. Herman, of Herman Gerel LLP, said, “We now know that Aaron’s computer servers secretly circulated the most confidential kinds of personal and business data and images repeatedly – without encryption – over the Internet and stored on numerous computers around the country.”
Named plaintiff Matthew Lyons said, “I cannot imagine what corporate justification existed for Aaron’s to conceal from customers this invasive practice of collecting, transmitting, and storing our private electronic communications. Aaron’s management’s continuing refusal to apologize to and inform customers who were spied upon is even more troubling.”
In October 2013, Aaron’s Inc. agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company “surreptitiously tracked consumers’ locations, captured images through the computers’ webcams – including those of adults engaged in intimate activities.” According to the FTC, Aaron’s senior corporate management knew the PC Rental Agent® software, created and sold by now-defunct DesignerWare, LLC, of North East, Pa., could be highly intrusive and invaded consumers’ privacy when in “Detective Mode.”
The FTC investigation began after a Casper, Wyo. couple, Crystal and Brian Byrd, sued Aaron’s Inc., Aspen Way Enterprises, Inc., and DesignerWare in May 2011 for allegedly spying on their family. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals granted a petition for leave for the plaintiffs to appeal a magistrate’s February 2014 recommendation that the Byrd case not be certified as a class action.
The new lawsuit is “Michael Peterson and Matthew Lyons v. Aaron’s Inc., et al.,” Case No. 1:14-mi-99999-UNA in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.
Attorney Contacts: Andrea S. Hirsch and Maury A. Herman, Herman Gerel LLP, 404-880-9500.
Media Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Herman Gerel LLP and co-counsel, firstname.lastname@example.org, 281.703.6000.
SOURCE Herman Gerel LLP