Did Lady Gaga Scam Japan Earthquake Victims?

"Born This Way" singer is being sued for allegedly failing to honor her pledge that all proceeds from sales of a charity bracelet would be donated to disaster relief

By Josh Grossberg Jun 27, 2011 3:19 PMTags
Lady GagaGeorge Pimentel/WireImage

We all know Lady Gaga's heart is usually in the right place.

So it might come as a shock to her Little Monsters that their idol has been accused in a lawsuit of ripping off victims of last March's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Talk about having a good "Poker Face."

So what's the deal?

The class-action complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Eastern Michigan (read it in full here), claims that the 25-year-old Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta), urged fans to buy her Lady Gaga Earthquake Relief Wristbands" for $5 apiece to aid recovery efforts in the Asian country, only to misrepresent her charitable initiative to individuals and the public.

According to court docs, Gaga stated that "all proceeds" from the sales of the bracelets would go to Japan relief when in fact such funds failed to materialize, and a majority of the money instead went to "shipping charges" that were in excess of the actual amount required to ship the bands based on their miniscule weight.

"There's a $3.99 shipping charge including packaging that weighed less than an ounce, so paying a $3.99 service charge for making a $5 donation is excessive since most of that costs about 50 cents," Ari Kresch, an attorney for 1-800-LAW-FIRM, which filed the lawsuit, tells E! News.

The suit goes on to note Lady Gaga's pleas to fans to lend a hand, citing statements she posted on her website.

"I designed a Japan Prayer Bracelet. Buy it/Donate here and ALL proceeds will go to Tsunami Relief Efforts. Go Monsters," wrote the hitmaker. "Little Monsters, show your support for Japan with this We Pray for Japan wristband!"

The legal eagle adds that those who gave a $5 donation assuming all of it would go to earthquake victims were duped, and not only that, but those Japanese affected by the tragedy saw very little of the cash promised.

"The first issue that came up was that there was a sales tax being charged on a charitable contribution," added Kresch. "Then it came to our attention that. . .not all of the money was going to charity."

Other defendants named in the suit include the fulfillment house, Bravado International Group Merchandising Services, Universal Music Group, House of Gaga Publishing and  Live Nation Merchandising.

The suit seeks unspecified compensatory as well as punitive damages.

A rep for Gaga was unavailable for comment.


Update June 28, 2011: Lady Gaga's publicist issued a statement saying the entertainer has made good on her promise to Quake victims and denies wrongdoing.

"This misguided lawsuit is without merit and unfortunately takes attention away from the kind deeds of the fans around the world who are supporting  the people of Japan," said rep Holly Shakoor. "The entire $5 donation made with the purchase of each bracelet is going to support the disaster relief.  No profit is being made on shipping costs. Sales tax charges were made in accordance with local legal requirements. Lady Gaga has personally pledged  her own funds to this cause and continues to support the victims of the disaster."