An investigation by trading standards watchdogs has uncovered 176 UK-based websites that violate online selling regulations, highlighting the growing problem of sites making misleading sales pitches.
The Office of Fair Trading and 30 local Trading Standards departments collaborated on a trawl of the internet to dig out the bogus sellers.
Their investigation found 90 'too good to be true' home-working schemes, 52 get-rich-quick schemes, 20 lottery scams, 15 bogus competition sites and four sites offering phoney qualifications.
Among the 176 sites identified as making bogus claims was one offering a get-rich-quick scheme in which participants could expect to raise £198,000 in 24 hours.
Another offered 'luxury hotel accommodation' for £3 a night. The catch was consumers had to part with £49.95 to obtain a directory containing discount vouchers.
The lure of quick and easy money makes such schemes attractive to consumers, said Derek Allen, executive director of government body the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services, which was involved in organising the UK sweep.
Unwitting consumers are frequently stung by unexpected costs and grossly exaggerated earning potential, and costs to individuals can be high.
"The results highlight the growing number of websites making misleading claims," said Allen.
More than 234 breaches of consumer protection legislation - including Control of Misleading Advertising Regulations, Ecommerce Regulations, Distance Selling Regulations, the Trade Descriptions Act and the Education Reform Act - were identified during the sweep.
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