The government has been urged to beef up the Consumer Council to better protect shoppers after a UN crime survey found Hong Kong second only to Cambodia for consumer fraud. While the latest UN International Crime Victim Survey found the city to be one of the world's safest when it came to violent robbery, rape and corruption, almost 22 per cent of those polled claimed they had fallen victim to a consumer scam in the past 12 months - almost three times the international average of 7.7 per cent and the highest in the industrialised world. But the Consumer Council last night said it would need more resources if it were to take on a wider role. A spokesman said the council's role now was to make recommendations for legislation and it was not a criminal enforcement agency. 'Most of our complaints are about quality, sales tactics and disputes over terms and conditions rather than crimes under Hong Kong's laws,' he said. The UN survey showed just over half of Hongkongers' complaints of consumer fraud related to shopping and nearly a third to unscrupulous mobile phone operators. Most of the rest related to hotels and restaurants, online commerce and repair work. The survey's results also follow the trend of mainland tourists complaining about being ripped off while shopping in Hong Kong. Survey co-author Rod Broadhurst, from the School of Justice Studies at the Queensland University of Technology, said the level of consumer fraud was a 'blemish' on Hong Kong's reputation and more should be done to try to reduce the problem. 'We are talking about shoddy products, fake products and we are talking about overcharging. There is a variety of problems but the most frequent was overcharging.' Boosting the Consumer Council's power and better education could help reduce the problem, he said. Survey co-author John Bacon-Shone, from the University of Hong Kong's social science department, admitted the severity of consumer crime was often a matter of opinion. Dr Broadhurst said: 'Hong Kong people are pretty savvy when it comes to shopping, so it may be a case in many areas of someone paying HK$800 rather than HK$500 and feeling deceived in some way.' The survey also found that when a Hongkonger was a crime victim, the crime was more likely to have taken place elsewhere, particularly on the mainland. Crimes not surveyed were homicide, crimes against business, drug trafficking and 'victimless' crimes.