Britons fall victim to Internet scams

Survey: One in two UK Internet users have received emails that attempt to defraud them - and a worrying number say they have lost money from rogue diallers, 419 emails or phishing scams
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor on

Half of the UK's Internet-using community have been targetted with some form of online scam, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

Research carried out by YouGov found that 48 percent of 2,000 Internet users surveyed had received emails aimed at tricking them into revealing bank account details. Five percent of those surveyed said they had lost money to scams, such as rogue diallers, 419 scams — which claim to offer the recipient the chance to share a large amount of cash, in exchange for their bank details and often a 'handling fee' — and identity theft emails, also known as phishing scams.

A quarter of respondents were unaware they could be liable for money they lost by providing their details to an online fraudster. A further 15 percent did not know who would be liable.

Forty percent admitted to never reading the terms and conditions of their bank account, with those aged over 50 the least likely to have done so.

AOL, which commissioned the study, advised people to check the terms and conditions of their banking agreements.

"Phishers are becoming increasingly sophisticated at spoofing legitimate brands and it is often difficult to spot a scam," said Will Smith, a security expert at AOL. "It's crucial that people protect themselves — as well as using spam filters and being wary of unsolicited emails, we would advise Internet users to check their bank balance. While many UK banks are compensating losses incurred as the result of phishing, this might not always happen."

The Association of Payments and Clearing Schemes said that online fraud cost banks £12m last year.

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