Two website owners that used 'typosquatting' to attract people looking for sites such as Wikipedia and Twitter have been fined £100,000 each.
Viewers were presented fake versions of the real sites on addresses that looked similar - wikapedia.com and twtter.com - and also with adverts for iPad and MacBook competitions disguised as surveys.
The fines were imposed by PhonepayPlus, the UK watchdog body responsible for regulating premium rate telephone services.
The fake sites used the same logos, colouring and fonts as the real sites to mislead internet browsers and take advantage of inexperienced web users in particular. Deliberate typos are also sometimes used for SEO, to give a site an overly inflated rating by using unethical techniques known as black hat search engine optimisation.
Adverts went on to tell consumers they had won a prize, and asked them for their contact details and to answer some questions.
The companies, Amsterdam-based R&D Media Europe and Unavalley BV, were ordered to repay those charged for responding to survey questions, since pricing was not clearly stated on the prize ads.
Users who entered their phone numbers were sent a PIN for the website and then bombarded with texts that it cost them £1.50 each to reply to send and receive.
Paul Whiteing, PhonepayPlus’s Chief Executive, said: “We want consumers to continue to have confidence in the digital market place and we will do everything we can to ensure that they do. Most providers support us in this area as they recognise that this market will only grow if consumers have such trust.”