Miss Cleo Settlement

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The operators of Miss Cleo's psychic hot line have agreed to cancel $500 million in customer bills to settle federal charges they fleeced callers while promising mystical insights into love and money.

The settlement requires Access Resource Services Incorporated and Psychic Readers Network Incorporated to stop using pay-per-call numbers to sell their soothsaying services. The Federal Trade Commission said the two Fort Lauderdale-based companies also have to cough up a $5 million fine.

Under the settlement, the companies do not admit breaking any law. But they have agreed to stop trying to collect money from customers who call the service and to forgive about $500 million in outstanding charges. The service also must return all uncashed checks to customers.