National Lottery scratchcards that have no chance of winning are on sale throughout the UK, according to a report in the Sun.
An investigation revealed that £100,000 red Cash cards are still for sale, despite the fact that the top jackpot prizes have already been won.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
Lottery organiser Camelot says the cards can legally remain on sale, but consumer champion Martin Lewis, of Money Saving Expert, wants them replaced with tickets that actually have a chance of winning the top £100,000 prize.
Lewis told the newspaper: "One would hope if you are buying a scratchcard that advertises a chance to win a £100,000 prize that you actually have a chance.
"Camelot should be doing everything to communicate the situation over the cards or be withdrawing the cards and replacing them with a new tranche."
Sun reporters purchased the unwinnable cards in shops and petrol stations in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Cambridge, Plymouth and Glasgow. More than 12 million were printed, with the odds of winning the top prize 2,449,904-to-one.
Now the five jackpots have gone, players have eight chances to win £2 to £5,000.
A Camelot spokesman told the newspaper: "All the top prizes have now been won and we have ceased distribution of the game. However, as there are still thousands of other prizes available and, as agreed with our regulator, retailers can continue to sell through the stock they have activated for sale."
According to the Daily Mail, a spokesman for the Advertising Standards Agency said last night that it would launch an investigation if any complaints were lodged.
Public reaction is mixed, with some feeling duped and ripped off by the move, while others highlight that the tickets do have a disclaimer on the back stating that the top prize may already have been won at the time of purchase.
Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, spoke out about the investigation in a blog post: "If this is true, this is a shocking indictment of the way Camelot runs the National Lottery. If Lotto customers have been buying cards without a Jackpot available, it suggests a massive fraud has been perpetrated on the public.
"It is bad enough that Lottery ticket prices have been raised to £2 – with money set aside for a £5 million bonus pot for senior Camelot Staff, but it is unacceptable for customers to be sold a pup – buying tickets that don't have the main prize it says. If the Sun Report is as bad as it seems, this is hucksterism at its worst."
10 of the biggest consumer rip-offs
Scratchcards with no chance of winning
Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly – especially if you are travelling outside the European Union (EU), where calls can cost up to 10 times as much as at home.
To avoid high charges, Carphone Warehouse suggests tourists ensure a data cap is in place, use applications to check data usage, turn off 'data roaming', avoid data-intensive applications such as Google Maps and YouTube and use wi-fi spots to update social networking sites.
Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is supposed to help people to continue meeting their loan, mortgage or credit card repayments if they fall ill or lose their jobs. However, policies are often over-priced, riddled with exclusions and sold to people who could not make a claim if they needed to.
At one point, sale of this cover - which was often included automatically in loan repayments - was estimated to boost the banks' profits by up to £5 billion a year.
Now, though, consumers who were mis-sold PPI can fight back by complaining to the bank or lender concerned and taking their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (08000 234567) should the response prove unsatisfactory.
It could be you, but let's face it, it probably won't be. In fact, buying a ticket for the Lotto only gives you a 1 in 13.9 million chance of winning the jackpot.
With odds like that, you would almost certainly be better off hanging on to your cash and saving it in a high-interest account.
No-frills airlines such as EasyJet may promote rock-bottom prices on their websites. But the overall fare you pay can be surprisingly high once extras such as luggage and credit card payment fees have been added - a process known as drip pricing.
Taking one piece of hold baggage on a return EasyJet flight, for example, adds close to £20 to the cost of your flight, while paying by credit card increases the price by a further £10.
It may therefore be worth comparing the total cost with that of a flight with a standard airline such as British Airways.
Cash advances, which include cash withdrawals, are generally charged at a much higher rate of interest than standard purchases.
While the average credit card interest rate is around 17%, a typical cash withdrawal of £500, for example, is charged at more than 26%.
What's more, as the interest accrues from the date of the transaction, rather than the next payment date, costs will mount up even if you clear your balance in full with your next payment.
Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda often run promotions under which you can, for example, get three products for the price of two.
However, it is only worth taking advantage of these deals if you will actually use the products. Otherwise, you are simply buying for the sake of it, which is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
Buy a train ticket at the station on the day of travel and the price is likely to give you a shock - especially if you are travelling a long distance at a busy time of day.
However, you can cut the cost of train travel by 50% or more by going online and making the purchase beforehand - especially if you book 12 weeks in advance, which is when the cheapest tickets are on sale.
Other ways to reduce the price you pay include avoiding peak times and taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10.
Most High Street banks offer packaged accounts that come with monthly fees ranging from £6.50 up to as much as £40, with a typical account charging about £15 per month.
Various benefits, such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, are offered in return for this fee. But whether or not it is worth paying for them depends on your individual circumstances.