A Silver Spring couple charged with defrauding consumers with a videotape dating service has agreed to pay $13,000 in restitution in exchange for the dropping of all charges against their firm.
Fred and Mary Lou Weston operated a dating service called the "New TV Dating Game" until last October, when they vanished, leaving numerous customers wondering where their money had gone.
Jeffrey Werner, Maryland's assistant attorney general, said yesterday that 33 area residents - who had paid as much as $500 each to participate in the dating service - will receive refunds in the next few weeks.
The attorney general's office began investigating the Westons after receiving complaints from more than 40 people in Prince George's, Montgomery and Baltimore counties who had responded to late-night television advertisements for the dating service, which promised an end to loneliness.
Werner said his office had tracked the Westons to their current home in Miami and last week began proceedings to bring the couple back to Maryland to be tried on charges of deceptive trade practices, false pretenses and conspiracy.
The charges were dropped last week, Werner said, after the Westons agreed to refund the $13,000.
The Westons could not be reached for comment yesterday. Bruce Fleisher, the Miami attorney for Fred Weston, said that the repayment agreement was not an acknowledgment of guilt.
"It was an agreement of convenience. It was going to cost a hell of a lot more in legal fees [for Weston] to financially back the case," Fleisher said.
Fleisher said that the Westons had closed down the dating service without giving the promised services or refunds because "they ran out of money."