Feeds

Gut instinct no protection against net scams

OFT research hits the right mark

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

Those who rely on gut instinct and are open to persuasion are more at risk of falling prey to internet scams, according to a research sponsored by the UK Office of Fair Trading.

Far from being naive and easily led, many scam victims are often decent decision-makers in their everyday life, psychology researchers at the University of Exeter conclude.

Grifters take UK marks for an estimated £3.5bn every year. OFT commissioned research found many frauds rely on exploiting basic human emotions such as excitement or fear to provoke a "gut reaction" to a fraudulent offer.

Many fraudsters attempt to hoodwink people by posing as reputable businesses or official institutions.

The research also looked for possible markers in the psychology profile of victims, teasing out a number of possible traits common to groups of marks.

  • Previous victims of a scam are more likely to show interest in responding again.
  • Over-confidence can lure those with background knowledge of the subject of a scam offer into falling victim to fraud.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, victims are not in general poor-decision makers, and might well be successful in business. But they do tend to be "unduly open to persuasion by others and less able to control their emotions".
  • Victims often keep their decision to respond to what turns out to be a scam as a secret from family or friends.

The research will be used to help direct the OFT and Serious Organised Crime Agency's strategy for tackling mass marketed fraud, by helping in the development of better-informed consumer awareness campaigns, which aim to help people to recognise and resist scams.

Methodology applied to the study included in-depth interviews with 25 scam victims and five "near" victims, textual analysis of nearly 600 scam mailings and web pages to identify key psychological triggers, the use of questionnaires, and a behavioural experiment in which 10,000 fake prize draw scam mailings were sent to members of the public in order to test their responses. Ten different types of mass marketing scam were considered, including advance fee fraud (419) scams, fake clairvoyants, prize draw pitch scams, bogus investment scams, "miracle" health cures, and bogus racing tipsters. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.