For Release: August 23, 2000

Playgirl Web Site Faces FTC Charges

Thousands of Consumers Illegally Billed for “Free Tours” Promoted by Sites

数千におよぶぶ消費者がウェブサイトが運営する “無料体験入会”によって不正請求されていた。

The owners and operators of www.playgirl.com, www.highsociety.com and scores of other adult Web sites have been charged by the Federal Trade Commission with illegally billing thousands of consumers for services that were advertised as “free,” and for billing other consumers who never visited the Web sites at all. The FTC and the New York Attorney General have filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking to halt the illegal billing practices and have asked the Court to freeze the defendants’ assets, pending trial, to provide for consumer redress.

米国連邦取引委員会(FTC)は、www.playgirl.com,と www.highsociety.com をはじめ、その他多数のアダルトサイトの所有者と運営者を、”無料体験入会”という宣伝文句で不正に請求したり、一度もそれらのサイトを訪れたことのないユーザーに請求した理由で告訴した。FTCとニューヨーク検事総長は、不正請求の活動を停止させるために調査中のアメリカ地方裁判所に訴訟を提起し、また、消費者への賠償のために公判が終わるまで被告の資産凍結を要求した。

New York City-based Crescent Publishing Group, Inc., its owner, Bruce Chew, and principal David Bernstein, are named as defendants in the federal court complaint detailing the charges, along with 64 affiliated corporations that operate the adult entertainment Web sites. According to the complaint, the “Free Tour Web Sites” generated income of $188 million between 1997 and October 1999 — $141 million of which was generated in the first 10 months of 1999 alone.

ニューヨークに本拠地を置くクレッセント・パブリッシング・グループとそのオーナーBruce Chew、そして社長のDavid Bernsteinは、アダルト娯楽サイトを運営する64の関連会社とともに、連邦裁判所の詳述された告訴状により被告と指定された。

According to the complaint, the defendants operate scores of adult entertainment Web sites, promoting them as “free.” The “Free Tour Web Sites” claim that consumers’ credit card numbers are required solely to prove that the consumers are of legal age to view the adult material, and that the credit cards will not be billed. But thousands of consumers were charged recurring monthly membership fees ranging from $20 to $90, the complaint says. Consumers who tried to dispute the charges were met with a variety of barriers designed by the defendants to thwart their efforts. According to the complaint, the defendants use billing names different than the names of the Web sites, so consumers often had no idea who was billing them or why. Moreover, consumers often had difficulty the contacting defendants to get refunds from information provided to them on their billing statement.

訴状によると、被告は”無料”と謳ったアダルト娯楽サイトを多数運営している。”無料体験入会”サイトは、単に”アダルト番組を見る資格がある成人かどうかを証明するため”だけにカード番号を要求しただけであり、クレジットカードには一切課金されないと主張している。しかし消費者は$20 から$90の月会費を継続的に請求されていた。そして請求に対抗しようと試みた消費者の前には、被告がそれらの努力を妨害するために用意した様々な障害が立ちはだかることとなった。また、被告はアダルトウェブサイトと異なる名前の請求名称を使っていたため、消費者は、その請求がどこから何の理由でやってきたのか見当もつかないこともあった。それだけでなく、請求書に記載される情報だけでは、返金の要求をするために被告に連絡を取ることすら困難なこともしばしばあった。

According to the joint FTC/ New York A.G. complaint, the defendants routinely change corporate billing names and merchant banks in an attempt to avoid the fraud detection systems of credit card organizations such as Visa U.S.A. When it realized what the defendants were doing, Visa U.S.A. disqualified them from using its credit card system. The defendants moved their merchant banking relationship to Guatemala, adopted several new merchant names, and continued to process credit card transactions.

FTCとニューヨーク検事総長合同の告訴によると、被告はVISA U.S.Aなどのカード会社が用意する詐欺防御システムから逃れる目的で定期的に請求会社名と取引銀行を変更していた。被告が何を行っているのかが発覚した時、VISA U.S.Aは、彼らのクレジット決済のシステムを使用できる資格を剥奪した。容疑者はガテマラに銀行取引を移し、新たにいくつかのマーチャントネームを取得し、そしてカード決済業務を継続していた。

The FTC and the New York Attorney General allege that Crescent and its principals have violated the FTC Act and New York state law. They have asked the Court to halt the deceptive and unfair practices, to appoint a receiver to oversee the businesses and to freeze the defendants’ assets pending trial to preserve them for consumer redress.


The Commission vote to file the complaint was 5-0.


The complaint was filed August 23, 2000 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.


NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.

Copies of the complaint are available from the FTC’s web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; toll free at 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 202-326-2502. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.

Claudia Bourne Farrell,
FTC Office of Public Affairs

Juanita Scarlet,
Office of the NY Attorney General

C. Steven Baker,
Midwest Regional Office

(Civil Action No. 00CV6315)
(FTC File No. 002 3001)





FTC, et al. v. . The Crescent Publishing Group, Inc., et al.; Bruce A. Chew; and David Bernstein

Complaint for Injunctive and Other Equitable Relief [PDF 1M]



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