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Watchdog fines prize call telco £100k

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A Midlands-based phone operator has blamed "naivety rather than malicious intent" after being fined £100,000 for running a dodgy premium rate service.

Premium-rate watchdog ICSTIS received 244 complaints about "World Travel" after punters received a spam phone call telling them they'd won a prize including a Spanish cruise. To receive the "prize", though, punters had to phone a premium rate number.

The watchdog ruled that the prizes were bogus and that this was just a con to rip off punters and used emergency powers to shut down the service.

But it really got the hump that Sutton Coldfield-based World Travel used automatic calling equipment (ACE) to make the calls - even though the ICSTIS has issued specific warnings that using the gear is illegal.

As a result ICSTIS busted World Travel with a fine for £75,000.

In a separate ruling, ICSTIS fined the same company £25,000 for running a similar scam using text messages.

In both cases World Travel "did not dispute the breaches" but said they due to "naivety rather than any malicious intent". They also insisted that the prizes did exist although some were being allocated on a "random basis". ®

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