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Phishers adapt old scams to exploit bank turmoil

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Scammers are exploiting meltdown in the banking sector in an attempt to trick users into handing over sensitive financial information.

Phishing emails commonly pose as security checks from a prospective mark's bank. The latest generation of the scam imitates communiques about bank mergers.

US consumer watchdog the Federal Trade Commission warned customers on Thursday not to take the bait. The FTC's alert - Bank Failures, Mergers and Takeovers: A "Phish-erman’s Special" - can be found here.

Although phishing scams have been around for at least five years - if not more - there are still plenty of suckers around to keep the scam profitable, even without considering the extra confusion added by the current banking crisis.

Wachovia ranked second on a list of the banks most targeted by phishing attacks last month, according a rating made by Secure Computing prior to its purchase by Citibank.

more than 20,000 fraudulent phishing websites were established in the first half of 2008, almost trebling (up 180 per cent) the figure from 1H07, according to the latest figures from UK banking association APACS. Online banking losses came in at £21.4m for the first six months of 2008, a big increase from £7.5m last year, which APACS blames largely on phishing and spyware-related scams. ®

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