Consumer Payment Card News

XXX Charges

Thousands of consumer were hit with some extra card charges, the XXX kind! The FTC says a California firm bilked consumers out of $43 million by charging consumers’ credit and debit cards for X-rated Internet visits they had not made and services they didn’t order. The FTC noted that thousands of those billed for visiting the Web sites did not even own computers. Last week the Federal Trade Commission announced it won a $37.5 million verdict against the enterprise operating the illegal credit card billing scam. According to the FTC, the defendants had purchased access to a database of three million credit card numbers provided by Charter Pacific Bank of Agoura Hills, CA. The FTC says the defendants illegally used the account numbers to place charges on the accounts and that 90.8% of the company’s $49 million a year in sales were actually unauthorized charges. At trial, the FTC showed that the defendants used at least five different merchant accounts and four fictitious business names. The court concluded that the defendants had processed bogus charges totaling more than $43 million. The $37.5 million damages verdict represents the illegal charges minus the amounts that consumers already received through chargebacks and credits. The FTC has identified in excess of $20 million in defendant’s assets. The defendants included Kenneth and Teresa Taves, and Dennis Rappaport and their businesses J.K. Publications, Inc., MJD Service Corp., Herbal Care, Inc., and Discreet Bill, Inc. Two other defendants in this case, Gary Mittman and Adult Banc, Inc., settled FTC charges in June 1999. Consumers wishing to make claims can contact the Court-appointed receiver in the following manner by email at [email protected] or by regular mail at Robb Evans & Associates, Receiver, PO Box 880, Sun Valley, CA 91353 and submit the following information (1) consumer’s name (2) the credit card number that was wrongfully billed, (3) the amount of the wrongful bill(s), and (4) a currently-valid credit card number through which the consumer can receive a refund. Consumers may also call (818) 768-8869 for refund information.

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