The online scammers

By at home

We love the Internet (especially online shopping in our lunch breaks and catching up with friends on Facebook!) but sometimes, clicking on that seemingly harmless link on that website or in your inbox could be more than you bargained for. With increasingly sophisticated online scams costing Britain £2.7bn a year, women are most likely to be victims of Internet fraud…

According to a new study by online advice website, knowthenet.org.uk, professional women aged between 25 and 34 are most likely to fall victim to online scams. The research was commissioned to better understand the profile of online scam victims and build up a picture of what a typical ‘mark’ will look like.

Security experts conducted an experiment with over 2,000 online consumers, and measured their ability to spot and respond appropriately to seven online scam scenarios. This included spotting fake Facebook profiles, competition scams and the sale of counterfeit goods online.

Women were most likely to fail six out of the seven tests and out of those who failed, most were aged between 25 and 34 years of age.

Why? Speaking to The Guardian, consulting psychologist Anjula Mutanda gives an insight into the typical behaviour of victims: "When you’re in the comfort of your own home or office, surrounded by the familiar, getting an email asking for personal details from a bank or from a friend on Facebook may not seem out of the ordinary or raise suspicion. You may not think you’re at risk but it’s important to remember scammers are sneaky and carefully target individuals by tapping into their emotional needs, wants, habits, desires and vulnerabilities."

Peter Wood, security expert at knowthenet.org.uk, said: "Scammers are becoming more devious in how they target victims and are constantly changing their attacks to reflect what people expect to see online or are interested in. New tricks like pharming work by redirecting your web browser – that means when you type in a legitimate web address, you’re redirected to a bogus site that looks genuine site. People then happily type in their personal details and don’t know they’re being scammed before it’s too late. The popularity of social networks like Facebook also means that many people – young and old – give away far too much personal data on the web, which can be a gold mine for scammers."

Listen up ladies, because we think it’s about time that we wised up to online scammers. According to the National Fraud Authority research, Internet fraud affects 1.8 million of us every year and costs the economy a whopping £2.7bn. If, like us, you’d rather spend your hard-earned cash on more important things (shoes, anyone?) then we’ve got some top tips from knowthenet.org.uk

  1. If an offer online seems too good to be true, it probably is!
  2. Never give any personal information to organisations or people before verifying who they are.
  3. Verify the identity of anyone you deal with online before handing over any money
  4. Parents and their children should agree on a code word or phrase (such as a few words from a song) or question that could be used to verify an emergency if they go travelling.
  5. Adjust the privacy settings of social network sites so you aren’t conducting your entire life as an outside broadcast with everyone in the world

Have you ever been a victim of Internet fraud?

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