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Young women are the most likely victims of online scams, research shows

Women aged 25 to 34 are most likely to fall victim to online scams, according to research published today.

The research was commissioned by a online advice site, knowthenet.org.uk, to build up a picture of the likeliest online scam victims.

It measured the ability of more than 2,000 consumers to spot and respond appropriately to seven online scam scenarios.

The tests ranged from identifying fake Facebook pages to testing how consumers respond to competition scams or the sale of counterfeit goods online.

In six out of the seven tests, women proved the most likely to fail, and most of those were in the 25-34 age group.

However, the most likely victim depended on the type of scam. For example, among those who fell for confidence tricks, 53% were men.

With internet scams on the rise, this means anyone, whether they use the internet regularly or not, could be at risk, the research concluded.

"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," said Peter Wood, security expert at knowthenet.org.uk.

New tricks, such as pharming, work by redirecting the user's web browser, he said, so that when they type in a legitimate web address, they are redirected without knowing to a bogus site that appears genuine.

"People then happily type in their personal details and don't know they are being scammed before it's too late," he said.

The popularity of social networks such as Facebook also means many people give away far too much personal data on the web, said Wood, which can be a goldmine for scammers.

Launched by Nominet, the knowthenet.org.uk site was developed to provide independent advice and support on getting started online, staying safe online, and doing business online.

Online fraud affects 1.8 million Britons every year, costing the economy £2.7bn, according to National Fraud Authority research published in January 2010.


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