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One in 20 Brits have lost money to some sort of online scam such as "phishing", according to research commissioned by AOL UK.

Half of those surveyed by pollsters YouGov said they had received "phishing" emails which attempt to trick people into handing over personal information such as bank account details and passwords.

The survey of 2,000 net users found that five per cent had fallen victim to scams and had lost out financially. Half of victims received no compensation from their banks while one in ten is still waiting for the matter to be resolved.

Said AOL's safety and security bod, Will Smith: "Phishers are becoming increasingly sophisticated at spoofing legitimate brands and it is often difficult to spot a scam, so it's crucial that people protect themselves."

In a separate statement email security outfit Postini reported that phishing remains one of the "major e-mail threats continuing to plague enterprise networks", despite a 45 per cent fall in phishing attempts in April.

Said Postini's Andrew Lochart: "The good news is that phishing attempts and email viruses declined in April. The bad news is that despite the decrease, these email threats remain a major concern for corporations, costing valuable time, money and resources."

In March it was reported that UK losses to credit card fraud jumped 20 per cent last year to £504m.

Card-not-present fraud (CNP) continues to be the biggest single type of fraud up by 24 per cent to £150.8m in 2004, according to APACS, the banking organisation. Losses grew in line with the growth of businesses now offering transactions made by phone, fax or online. Identity theft (fraudulent applications and account takeover) was up 22 per cent, but accounted for only £36.9m in losses.

Counterfeit (skimmed/cloned) cards accounted for losses of £129.7m (up 17 per cent) while stolen or lost plastic is blamed for £114.4m in fraudulent transactions, many of which took place at cash machines. Fraud at UK cash machines grew by 81 per cent to £74.6m in 2004, up from £41.1m in 2003. ®

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