The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has warned that mass market fraud campaigns are robbing UK internet users of billions of pounds a year.
Organisations in the UK, including Soca, the National Fraud Authority, the Office of Fair Trading and the Metropolitan Police, have today joined forces with others worldwide in an attempt to raise public awareness about the scams and the cyber criminals behind them.
People in the UK lose an estimated £3.5bn every year to mass market fraud, according to Soca, and the scams are becoming more plausible and complex all the time.
Soca advised affected users to contact the National Fraud Authority's Action Fraud site immediately, to be wary of unsolicited messages, especially those claiming that the recipient has won a prize, and to never provide personal information or money upfront.
Users should also be wary of poor spelling in emails or on web sites, said Soca.
Matthew Bruun, a director at web authentication firm VeriSign, warned that dating sites are becoming particular favourites of cyber criminals looking to mine personal information.
"Soca's research further highlights how criminals are continuing to widen the techniques they use to target their victims, and that online fraud is now a major industry," he said.
"Consumers are at risk of losing cash, and face wider headaches in solving identity theft problems at the hands of increasingly agile cyber fraudsters."
Facebook database included text-message metadata - despite not using Facebook Messenger for SMS
Successful attack could result in harm to patients and financial loss, warns NHS governing body