UK victims of EU scams rise 340%

More than three times as many UK drivers have fallen for European scams involving car rentals and overseas car purchases in the past year, figures have shown.

Most people were duped by fake investment schemes, lotteries, prize draws and secondary tickets, according to the UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC).

In 2008 the centre received 147 complaints, which shot up 340% to 501 complaints in 2009, prompting UK ECC to warn consumers to be extra careful about foreign deals for holiday clubs, timeshares and recreational and cultural services.

"We're sure that consumers understand that scams do not just emanate from within the UK and that scamsters are prevalent from within the EU too," said UK ECC manager Jed Mayatt.

"But it's important for them to know that misleading practices appear to be on the increase. They should be aware of the warning signs."

About three million UK residents lose £3.5 billion to fraudsters every year, according to research from the Office of Fair Trading.

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