A survey has shown that a Labour-loving teenage boy earning less than £25,000 living in the East Midlands with a GCSE-level of education is the most likely person to be conned by an online scam.
The survey of Britons, Americans and Australians was carried out by security software experts, PC Tools in collaboration with the Ponemon Institute with over 4,000 people taking part around the globe.
The results show that Americans feel they are the most likely to fall for one of the test scenarios which included winning an online price, get rich quick opportunities and online donations. The Brits are next with the Aussies the least likely to fall for the scams.
46 per cent of Brits believe they might give away their mobile number to win an online prize, however when it comes to their friends, they believed that 66 per cent of those closest to them would be stupid enough to be conned by the scam.
According to PC Tools, the online scam industry is a fast-growing part of the £6.6 billion lost through fraud in the UK annually, with cyber-criminals becoming more and more sophisticated.
Those criminals are now using social engineering to fool people into divulging their bank details, download free antivirus software or make a donation online.
Richard Clooke, an Internet security expert for PC Tools, told us that cyber crime in now a bigger industry than the drugs trade. It is so sophisticated that fake call centres are being set up to deal with calls from those looking to check on the credibility of an online offer.
One area which has seen a dramatic growth in recent months is in the area of online donations. “Within hours of a natural catastrophe, a scam website will be set up to let you donate money to the victims,” Clooke told us.
Some scams are not technically illegal but occupy a “morally grey area” according to Clooke and PC Tools latest software is aiming to alert people whenever they visit a site which could be mis-leading.
Scam Alert is the latest tool which is available to customers, and using a constantly up-dated registry of known bad URLs as well as carrying out other check on a website to ascertain its validity. If a problem is detected, a dialogue box will then pop up asking if you want to continue to the chosen page.
The survey suggests that teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18, men, Labour supporters, those living in the East Midlands, those earning less than £25,000 and those with a GCSE as the highest level of education are the most susceptible to online scams. So if that describes you, you might want to have a look at your online activity.