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Prompt action by the DVD Forums, one of the largest forum communities in the UK, has succeeded in averting threatened legal action for alleged fraud by Littlewoods.

Early on Tuesday morning, a member posted a Littlewoods voucher code in the DVD Forum's Bargain Forum. The thread was taken up and at around 2am someone else discovered that by changing the numeric part of the code they could get access to other deals, giving 33 per cent discount

By 4pm on Tuesday the thread was brought to the attention of Forum administrator Colin Polonowski, who promptly closed the thread and removed it from public view.

The matter would it have closed there but for the fact Littlewoods itself had got wind of the thread, and instructed its solicitors on the matter.

"At around 6pm [on Tuesday] we had an email from Littlewoods with the title 'Fraud against Littlewoods Ltd on your forums' basically asking us to remove the offending material - which we had done - and to expect contact from their solicitors," Polonowski told us.

After receiving the first email from Littlewoods DVD Forums administrators shut the Bargain Forum on the site.

This action satisfied Littlewoods, which thanked the DVD Forums for removing the thread. Its solicitors wrote yesterday advising the DVD Forums "to keep an eye out to ensure it doesn't happen again".

Yesterday evening the Bargain Forum was restored with tighter rules and closer scrutiny.

Although the situation remains delicate, it seems prompt action by the administrators at DVD Forum has enable it to avoid a messy situation.

Polonowski says he has taken away a number of lessons from his close brush with Littlewoods lawyers, which have relevance for other online communities.

"We're certainly on a very steep learning curve at the moment. We've had plenty of legal threats in the past - although until this weekend none really had any major basis," Polonowski told us.

"I think it's just a case for us to be extra careful in the future - we're drawing up new terms and conditions to avoid scams such as this and are also rebuilding our moderator team to ensure that we have the right people watching over things," he added. ®

External Links

One thousand responses on the DVD Forums relating to LittleWoods threatened legal action. You need to register to see them but the relevant threads can be found here: part one, part two, part three and part four

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