BOLTON MEP Chris Davies is warning people to beware of telephone prize cons.

He says residents may end up paying as much as £1.50 per minute for telephone calls if tricked into responding to the claim that they have won a prize.

There has been a recent explosion in the number of people receiving unwanted automated phone calls telling them to dial another number to claim the reward.

If the prize number is dialled the caller is strung along for a premium-rate phone call.

The result could be that they end up listening to a recorded message for 10 minutes or more costing as much as £20 per call.

The prize, if there is one, usually turns out to have a catch, such as a book of vouchers.

The Office of Fair Trading revealed earlier this month that Britons lose out from such marketing tactics to the tune of £150 million each year.

Liberal Democrat MEP Mr Davies said: "This is yet another attempt by unscrupulous individuals to con money from unsuspecting people and businesses."