Investors warned of `virtual' conmen on the Internet

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The Independent Online
Internet users were warned yesterday to beware online conmen who copy the web sites and logos of legitimate investment firms in order to rip off eager would-be investors.

The Securities and Investments Board (SIB), which regulates the financial services industry, said there have already been several cases of "copycat" sites on the World Wide Web.

The enormous growth of the Internet, which is doubling in users roughly every six months, is matched only by the rapid expansion of online commerce - and attempted fraud. Would-be conmen can easily register and set up their own, apparently legal, web sites. It takes moments to surf to a legitimate business's site, where simply accessing the page makes it possible to copy all or part of the contents. The fake copied site can then be used as a "virtual shopfront" to tempt the unwary into providing personal financial data or even money.