The Federal Trade Commission charged three people and their businesses with billing or debiting consumers' credit card accounts for unordered or fictitious Internet services, the agency said this week.
The defendants repeatedly placed charges on consumers' credit and debit cards for Internet entertainment services they hadn't ordered, the FTC alleged. Consumers who tried to contest the charges — some of whom didn't even own computers — “were met with confusing voice-mail messages, anonymous Internet sites and a maze of mail drops,” the FTC said.
At the FTC's request, a U.S. District Court judge issued a temporary restraining order, appointed a temporary receiver for two of the companies and froze their assets pending a hearing.
The FTC named Kenneth H. Taves (aka Kenneth Till), Teresa Callei Taves and Gary Mittman, all of California, and their companies, J. K. Publications Inc., MJD Service Corp. and Net Options Inc. in its complaint. The complaint alleges that the defendants also use the business names Netfill, N-Bill, Webtel and Online Billing.
The FTC said it will ask the court to stop the bogus billing practices permanently and order consumer reimbursement.