NEW DELHI: A leading advertising company in the city of New Delhi has been fined more than Rs 1 crore by the Enforcement Directorate for using fake names and images for advertising, a move that was widely condemned.
The Enforcement Directorate had slapped a fine of Rs 1,400 crore against the ad agency AdHive, which had been advertising on the websites of a leading Hindi television channel.
The regulator said that the company had not used an appropriate authentication mechanism, which meant it had been able to fool advertisers and target the wrong audiences.
AdHive said it would contest the fine and would appeal it.
“The violation of trust and confidentiality has been caused by a combination of factors and is not indicative of the company’s quality,” the company said in a statement.
Adhive has been in the business of selling advertisements and in the past has been the target of controversy.
In 2014, it was accused of sending misleading messages about the safety of vaccination in an advertisement.
In its complaint, AdHIVE alleged that the agency had used the name and logo of an advertiser to reach out to advertisers, which would not have been possible in a non-advertising environment.
“The advertising industry has witnessed an unprecedented level of fraud in the last two years,” said Ashish Chawla, an assistant professor at the Centre for Information Technology Policy at Delhi University.
“This is a case of an advertising agency that has been running an ad campaign that has no value to its business.”
A company spokeswoman said the company was not in touch with the Enforcement Division and declined to comment.
The regulator has been investigating the use of fake identities and images in advertisements, as well as the use by the advertising industry of non-authenticated, “fake” identity cards to target consumers.
A complaint filed by the agency in the Enforcement Department against the Delhi government, alleging that it had breached the Digital India Act, is currently pending before the Supreme Court.