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Spam messages promoting bogus financial tips are on the rise. Financial spam rose from 10.8 per cent to 26 cent last month, according to mail filtering outfit ClearSwift. The increase is due largely to bogus stock tips, it says.

By implying that recipients of spam emails are in possession of privileged information - such as news of an acquisition before a general announcement - spammers seek to persuade the gullible into purchasing particular stocks. If a significant enough number of easily-led individuals invest in the touted stock, a spammer can ramp up the share price so that existing shareholders can sell their shares at a profit.

Alyn Hockey, ClearSwift's director of research, said: "It is hard to believe that spammers can influence stock market prices but they wouldn't be sending these emails unless there was something it for them."

Financial spam pegged out at second place in ClearSwift's March spam chart. Healthcare spam (57 per cent) was the most common form of unsolicited email. Pornographic emails comprised 8.2 per cent of the total, making this category the third most common nuisance in ClearSwift's spam chart. ®

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