Page last updated at 00:05 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Warning on bogus holiday clubs

Holiday makers at Stanstead airport
People checking in at nine airports will be given the warning scratch cards

Holiday makers are being warned against falling victim to scams involving fake Spanish "holiday clubs".

Trading standards officers and Office of Fair Trading (OFT) staff are handing out leaflets about the scam at nine UK airports on Wednesday.

They encourage tourists to be wary of touts, who hand out scratch cards which tell them they have won a prize.

The OFT said these cards were in fact a way to lure unsuspecting holiday makers to a potentially high-cost sales pitch.

At the sales presentations, tourists are cajoled into signing up for fake holiday clubs at the cost of thousands of pounds in "membership fees".

"In most cases, consumers find they have bought little more than access to an internet booking service offering the same service they could get at a travel agent for free," the OFT said.

Victims lose on average £3,030 each, the OFT added.

"Bogus holiday clubs ruin thousands of holidays every year leaving holidaymakers with large bills for near worthless holiday club memberships," said Mike Haley, the OFT's director of consumer protection.

The day of action by consumer protection staff is taking place across Europe, with similar events in Tenerife, as well as Norway, Belgium and Cyprus.

It repeats a similar version by UK consumer protection staff last year.

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