The number of Surrey victims of websites overcharging for documents such as passports has trebled in half a year.
That was the message from Surrey County Council this week.
In a warning to people to be vigilant and an appeal to victims to come forward, the council revealed that between January and May, more than 150 people in Surrey paid unnecessary fees to official-looking copycat websites.
The council stated that in the whole of 2013, around 50 Surrey residents were duped.
It stated that county victims have paid £19,000 to copycat websites so far this year.
Taken nationally, this would cost £2.8 million, it said.
One victim paid £220 for a passport – more than three times the usual £72.50 cost.
Another paid £100 for a driving licence – five times the cost of a replacement.
Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for community services, said: “We’re keen to protect Surrey residents from being fleeced by copycat websites, so we urge victims to come forward so we can help them.”
Surrey County Council’s trading standards department feeds information to the National Trading Standards Intelligence Team on copycat websites.
National funding has led to these websites being less prominent via search engines.
Any traders found to be deceiving consumers face investigation.
For more information, including tips on how to spot or report a copycat website, visit the county council website at: