California is investigating whether 30 Southern California churches were bilked of tens of thousands of dollars by companies that leased computer equipment.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown announced the probe Friday involving three companies and four people. Brown says they are suspected of defrauding churches in nearly a dozen states.

Brown says the companies offered churches free computer kiosks that could serve as electronic message boards and generate advertising revenue. However, the churches were later charged as much as $45,000.

Two men involved in Brown's investigation were charged with fraud last month in Michigan.

The companies are United Leasing Associates of America, Balboa Capital Corp. and Banc of America Leasing and Capital. Messages left with the companies were not immediately returned.