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Govt invests £4.3m to tackle internet fraud

Cyber enforcement team cracks down on online scams

The government is investing £4.3m in helping to stop fraud on the internet.

A cyber enforcement team that will aim to eradicate ticket and fake goods scams online is being set-up following research by the Office of Fair Trading that revealed 73 percent of Brits have received a scam email in the last year.

The OFT also said that cyber criminals raked in £3.5bn last year from the unsuspecting web users that were duped.

The enforcement team will track internet fraudsters behind scams offering tickets to music and sporting events that never materialise once payment has been received, as well as websites that offer fake brand-name products or take consumer's money but never deliver the goods purchased.

"The internet is rapidly transforming the way we shop. It presents massive opportunities for consumers, but unfortunately it also harbours fraudsters who can leave consumers upset and out of pocket," said Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan.

"So as they get more sophisticated, we need to stay one step ahead. Our investment will help the OFT and Trading Standards to put in place the new specialist teams, training and technology required to take the fight to these criminals."

Heather Clayton, senior director for the OFT added: "Ultimately, giving the public even greater confidence to shop online is what drives the activities of our enforcement team".

The OFT advised web users to be vigilant, and for further protection consumers can take identity fraud protection insurance.

While Mel Morris from security firm Prevx applauds the cyber enforcement team, he was quick to point out that online fraud has many faces and doesn't end with counterfeit tickets or fake products.

"People are also worried about threats such as identify fraud, which can result in vast sums of money being stolen from bank accounts or through credit cards transactions," said Morris.

"In this instance, the onus is very much on business and consumers taking action to protect themselves. Here the goal should be to cut these scams off at the source, meaning the second someone goes online they are protected against an attack."

Richard Clooke from PC Tools added that government should be aware a huge part of ensuring users stay safe online is educating them about the threats and scams on the web.

He also advised web users to "make sure your version of Windows always has the latest updates and that your security software of choice has real-time proactive behavioural protection, which helps protect against new and unknown threats".

See also: Symantec website exposes World Cup scams

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