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A company based in New York has been fined £100,000 ($185,500) for ripping off UK punters with a premium rate number scam. Some 850 people complained to watchdog ICSTIS that B&B Services LLC had caused them to run up huge phone bills while connected to the internet. People claimed that dialler software installed on their PCs made repeated internet calls without their knowledge or consent.

Although B&B Services, which ran an adult service, denied that its dialler software had connected to premium rate numbers without users' consent, ICSTIS fined the US company £100,000, ordered it to refund those out of pocket and barred access to the service for two years.

Another New York-based company - BW Telecom - was also fined £100,000 for continuing to run its online adult entertainment service even though it was barred last year. The US company had been fined £75,000 ($139,000) for spamming punters with porn emails that led to users racking up whopping phone bills. The spam sent by BW Telecom contained peak-rate dialler software which disconnected users from their ISP before reconnecting them to a service that charged them £1.50 a minute for Net access.

These fines are the latest in a crackdown by the regulator against internet dialler scams which defraud consumers by secretly changing their computer settings so they call a premium rate phone line instead of their usual ISP number.

In its latest list of actions taken against rogue premium rate operators, ICSTIS also fingered Liechtenstein-based adult entertainment operator DDD Com AG for also running an internet dialler scam. Twenty one people complained that dialler software installed on their computers without their knowledge had led to repeated calls to a premium rate number. The company was fined £60,000 and barred from running the service for two years.

Four weeks ago 11 companies were barred from running premium rate internet dialler services as part of a crackdown on scammers ripping off UK punters. Another 33 companies also face the chop after premium rate watchdog ICSTIS used emergency powers to tackle the growing problem of rogue diallers.

Said ICSTIS director George Kidd: "We have only granted permission to those companies that satisfy our stringent requirements, covering key areas such as clear terms and conditions, user consent, information about how to delete diallers, and responsibility for customer refunds. Any company we find running a dialler without our permission will be cut off immediately." ®

Related stories

Scammers fined £125k for premium-rate fraud
UK watchdog blocks 11 rogue dialler operators
British Gas warns punters about rogue diallers
Swiss telco fined £50K for UK rogue dialling action
MPs slam premium-rate 'criminal scams'
US spammer fined £75k for porn sting

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