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Online fraudsters favour easy to set-up webmail accounts when perpetrating online fraud. Yahoo! accounts come first in a list of the top ten email addresses used by online card fraudsters compiled by Early Warning UK, a scheme set up to help retailers avoid credit card fraud.

Early Warning has established a database of fraudsters that includes tens of thousands of entries. Subscribers to its CardAware protection service add hundreds more each month. Analysis of the last three years' data shows webmail services (such as Yahoo! and Hotmail) are preferred by crooks. Email addresses are a vital tool for fraudsters because without them it's very difficult to place orders online.

Early Warning reckons webmail providers are not being proactive enough in blocking accounts when presented with evidence that they're linked with fraudulent activity.

Andrew Goodwill, managing director of Early Warning, said: "I contacted Hotmail's legal department in the UK. I suggested that once we had identified email addresses belonging to Hotmail that had been used to commit online credit card fraud, we would be willing to disclose this information automatically to them, so they could block the offending accounts immediately.

"They declined our offer, saying that they 'only co-operate with the police' in these matters. I strongly believe the verification process undertaken once a free email address is set up is totally inadequate and allows criminals to continue their illegal acts. We should be putting pressure on these email companies to clean up their acts and take responsibility for what their customers do," he added.

Moira Powley, Director of online store theprinterdatabase.com, an Early Warning subscriber, said that she'd stopped taking orders associated with Yahoo! webmail accounts after repeated incidents of attempted fraud.

"Do you Yahoo? Well, if you do, then I’m afraid we will assume you are a fraudster! Why? Because the majority of fraudulent attempts to buy online using a stolen identity have Yahoo! free email addresses. So, when we see Fred.Bloggs@yahoo.co.uk, we assume it is fraud," she said. ®

Top 10 email address domains linked to online fraud, according to Early Warning

  1. Yahoo.com
  2. Yahoo.co.uk
  3. Hotmail.com
  4. AOL.com
  5. Hotmail.co.uk
  6. Parrot.com
  7. Postmaster.com
  8. Lycos.co.uk
  9. Lycos.com
  10. Msn.com

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