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Gamers desperate to get their mitts on Grand Theft Auto IV are being targeted in an opportunistic spyware scam. Spam emails offer prospective marks free entry to a draw offering a PlayStation 3 loaded with the much-anticipated game as a prize.

In reality, these illicit emails are loaded with spyware designed to swipe personal financial information from compromised PCs.

Grand Theft Auto IV for the PS3 and the Xbox 360 was released today to delirium from avid gamers. But some wouldbe buyers have been left disappointed as game stores have been unable to fulfill demand to the extent that even a minority of fans who pre-ordered the game have been left empty-handed.

Spammers are seeking to exploit this disappointment with a carefully targeted spam scam.

Consumer-focused spam filtering firm ClearMyMail claims that more than half of the junk mail being blocked by its service on Tuesday is Grand Theft Auto IV-related. The vast majority of the junk mail messages offer the opportunity to win a PS3 complete with the game.

"We are seeing unprecedented levels of spam in relation to the game; with more than half of the spam our service is blocking relating to Grand Theft Auto, most of which contain viruses and spyware," said Dan Field, Managing Director of www.ClearMyMail.com. Field advised keen gamers to wait until they can legitimately purchase the game rather than fall victim to "opportunists" capitalising on pent-up demand.

Stuart Rowe, chief operating officer at online retailer Play.com, said the game has created unprecedented demand. "We're experiencing trading levels similar to what we would see in the run up to Christmas, taking over 80 orders per minute at peak times," he said. "We have had to recruit extra warehouse staff to work through the night to ensure product arrives on the day of launch." ®

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