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Porn site chief in $38m credit card scam

800,000 punters charged for unwanted porn

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An American porn site chief faces up to thirty years in jail after a $38 million online credit card scam.

Malibu resident Kenneth Taves defrauded around 800,000 credit card holders in a scheme that spanned several years, according to the US Attorney's Office.

The idea was simple enough - Taves ran a Website that charged punters $19.95 per month to access pornography. When the business failed to drum up enough business, he managed to buy a printout of a list of credit card details belonging to around 4,000 people for $5,000. He then started pumping the numbers into his own site, with instructions to charge the credit card owners the $19.95 monthly fee, KCBS Channel2000 reported.

The cheeky fraudster banked on the fact that very few people regularly check their credit card statements. He managed to charge at least 800,000 credit cards, and sometimes even charged them more than once a month - prosecutors in the case claim many of the victims had never even been online.

The authorities reckon he owes around $38 million in unauthorised credit card charges.

Eventually, punters angry at the mysterious charges appearing on their credit card statements tipped off the Federal Trade Commission. The FBI got involved, and in November the government seized $8 million of Taves' ill-gotten gains. And they reckon this is just the tip of the iceberg.

"Eventually we expect to recover as much as $25 or $30 million," Assistant US Attorney Brent Whittlesey told Channel 2000.

The 49-year-old used the stash to buy a $4 million house in Malibu, and also laundered some in assets in the Cayman Islands and Vanuatu, an island in the South Pacific.

Whittlesey said this was probably the heftiest case of fraud ever committed by an individual.

Travis pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday, and is due to be sentenced in April. ®

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