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UK consumers were warned yesterday to beware of scams originating in the EU after complaints tripled in a year.
The scams were mainly connected to fake lotteries, investment schemes and the secondary ticket market, the UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) said.
Complaints about misleading practices increased by 340% in 2009. They involved scams ranging from recreational services, car rentals, overseas car purchases, holiday clubs and timeshares.
The advice follows Office of Fair Trading figures disclosing around three million UK consumers lose a total of £3.5bn to scams every year.
UKECC manager Jed Mayatt said: “We're sure consumers |understand that scams do not just emanate from within the UK and that scamsters are prevalent from within the EU too. But it's important for them to know misleading practices appear to be on the increase.”
UK consumers caught up in secondary ticket scams, usually for sold-out events, mostly complained about sites based in Hungary, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Cyprus. Operators failed to send tickets and were then impossible to contact.
The UK ECC received more than 200 complaints and inquiries in 2009 from UK consumers relating to EU traders under the recreational and cultural services category, which included ticket problems. The centre also received more than 2,100 complaints about holiday clubs and timeshares.
Victims were often tempted with the offer of a free holiday, but found themselves paying for flights and other add-ons that made it more expensive than booking it themselves.