Feeds

Gut instinct no protection against net scams

OFT research hits the right mark

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.