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Young women most likely to fall for phishing

Young women are most likely to fall victim to online scams, according to new research published by internet security expert knowthenet.org.uk.

A survey of 2,000 online consumers measured their ability to spot and respond to seven types of scam scenario, with tests ranging from identifying fake Facebook pages to testing how they react to online lottery and auction scams.

It found that professional women aged 25 to 34 were the most likely to fall victim to online scams such as phishing – where an individual is asked to give away sensitive information such as passwords and credit card details – competition scams, and the sale of counterfeit goods.

By contrast, the research found that professional men aged 35 to 44, based in the north of England, were more likely to fall for "confidence trick" scams, such as emails or Facebook messages asking for money to support a soldier or someone in distress.

Peter Wood, of Know the Net, warned of "new tricks", including "pharming". "When you type in a legitimate web address, you're redirected without knowing to a bogus site that looks genuine. People then happily type in personal details," he said. "The popularity of social networks also means that many people give away far too much personal data on the web, which can be a goldmine for scammers."

According to the National Fraud Authority, online fraud affects 1.8m Britons every year and costs the economy £2.7bn annually.