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U.S. authorities bust British porn site

False long-distance charges, alleges FTC

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has put a stop to a British company's alleged scam in billing more than 110,000 American consumers for hundreds of dollars each in false long-distance charges to dial into online pornography sites.

Over the course of just a few days in mid-September, more than 600 consumers complained to the FTC that Verity International, based on the island of Sark, had inappropriately charged them an average of almost £154.49 in long-distance calls.

The FTC complaint said Verity lured Internet porn seekers, some of them under-age, by offering them a way to pay for online adult entertainment through their phone bill rather than a credit card.

The agency's suit hints at both the size of the online porn business and the problems the sector faces in gaining mainstream acceptance from the financial community.

Despite the low profile of companies engaged in online adult entertainment – few have sought public funding or venture capital – porn may be the only form of online content that has proven profitable.

Based on the average disputed bill and number of users in this case, the roughly £17.31 million in question underscores how much money Internet adult entertainment companies can generate.

The company has already collected £346,150 from consumers involved in the case, according to the FTC.


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