Seventeen people have been arrested by the ICAC for allegedly inflating the number of hits on a semi-official website that took bookings for government sporting facilities. The Independent Commission Against Corruption said those arrested were involved in a suspected fraud case, in which the number of website hits was falsely boosted to meet contract requirements set by the government. Bogus website users made thousands of false bookings, the investigators claimed. The website, although not named by the ICAC, is believed to be ESDlife.com. The site's operators had been contracted to provide online booking services for the government. The ICAC's investigation, code-named 'Grass Owl', was made in response to a corruption complaint involving an apparently unrelated matter. According to its contract, the website operator would receive a monthly subscription fee and a fee for every transaction if it could meet a certain minimum number of transactions. Those arrested include serving and former executives of the website. The ICAC alleged that they conspired to boost the number of website hits by recruiting people to make bogus transactions. Most of these involved the booking of sporting facilities with the Leisure and Culture Services Department. The ICAC said that in the first nine months of this year, 70 suspected bogus patrons made more than 100,000 bookings via the website, involving total charges of more than $700,000. However, none of the booked facilities were used. All of those arrested were released on bail. Investigations are continuing, the ICAC said. ESDlife.com last night said the allegations were groundless, but it was co-operating with the ICAC.