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Sixteen premium rate services have been fined a total of £1.3m following a crackdown on rogue operators over the Easter weekend.

Last week ICSTIS warned punters to be on their guard against dodgy operators using illegal Automated Calling Equipment (ACE) after receiving credible market intelligence that scamsters were to step up their operations over the long weekend.

Today it announced that it used an "unprecedented level of sanctions" to deal with 16 services using ACE to tell people they had won a cash prize or holiday. Those who fell for the scam ended up phoning expensive phone numbers but received nothing.

Using emergency powers the watchdog shut down the offending services and in some cases managed to freeze the income of some of the operators.

ICSTIS has also notified monster regulator Ofcom over the role of one telephone company - Allied Telecommunications - because it was involved in all 16 rogue services.

"These services are simply unacceptable," said ICSTIS director, George Kidd. "They are intrusive, misleading and almost certainly illegal. We have acted fast to stop the harm but the problem has not gone away.

"Over Easter we again saw a spate of this junk marketing. When this goes further, into illegality and fraud the proper authorities must also act." ®

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