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PlayStation spammers settle charges

Three people involved return more than $25,000 and agree to federal oversight of their business, the Federal Trade Commission said.

Internet spammers who secretly billed victims $3.99 per minute after luring them with promises of a free video-game console have agreed to settle deceptive-business charges, the U.S. government said on Wednesday.

The spammers have refunded more than $25,000 and have agreed to federal oversight of their business activities, the Federal Trade Commission said.

According to FTC charges filed in March 2002, Internet users received an e-mail message saying they had won a Sony PlayStation 2 in a sweepstakes contest sponsored by Web portal Yahoo.

Those who responded to the message were directed to a fake Yahoo page that instructed them to download a program that would allow them to claim the prize.

The program then connected them to a pornographic Web page that secretly charged them $3.99 a minute through a 1-900 telephone line, the FTC charged.

BTV Industries, which created the modem-dialer software, has returned $25,000 in gains from the scheme, the FTC said.

Three individuals--Christopher Baith of Pennsylvania, Cosme Monarrez, Jr. of Las Vegas and Sorabh Verma of New York--have also promised to avoid such schemes in the future, and Baith will return $2,500 in gains, the FTC said.

Story Copyright  © 2004 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.