Fraudsters ready with "a scam for everyone"

Pyramid schemes, lotteries, phishing or 419 - which will target you?

Pyramid schemes, lotteries, phishing or 419 - which will target you?

Younger, more affluent consumers are just as likely as vulnerable, older consumers to be targeted by scammers.

Research from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) shows that nearly half of the UK population - or 20 million consumers over the age of 15 - have been targeted by a scam. Pyramid schemes, lotteries, phishing or 419 scams are often spread through websites and emails.

The OFT said people most likely to be targeted by fraudsters are in the middle age ranges, with 54 per cent of people between 35- and 44-years-old and 58 per cent of people between 45- and 54-years-old having been targeted by a mass-marketed scam in the last two to three years.

Working people were more likely to have been targeted than those who were not working. And nearly one in 10 of those targeted had actually fallen victim to the scammer and parted with money.

According to the OFT, the results run counter to expectations that the main focus for scammers would be the most obviously vulnerable consumer groups - older people, or those isolated from social networks such as the workplace.

OFT market transformation director Colin Brown said in a statement: "These results confirm that there is a scam for everyone, not just those whom we would normally consider the most obvious and vulnerable targets.

"They emphasise that we should all be vigilant, because no matter what your personality type, age or social circumstances, there is a scam marketed for you."