Adult sites pay off on fraud charges

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The operators of www.playgirl.com and several other Web sites offering adult-oriented content agreed to pay $30 million to settle charges that they illegally billed thousands of customers for what were advertised as free services, the Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.

Reuters reports Crescent Publishing Group Inc. and 64 affiliated corporations also agreed to post a $2 million bond, and owners Bruce Chew and David Bernstein agreed to put up $500,000 each before they continue to operate the Web sites, the consumer protection agency said.

The FTC and the Attorney General of New York State alleged in their complaint that visitors to www.playgirl.com, www.highsociety.com and dozens of other Web sites were asked to provide credit card numbers to prove that they were old enough to view adult-oriented material.

Although visitors were told that access to the site was free, they were then charged recurring monthly fees of between $20 and $90, the FTC said.

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