British gangs duping people to buy malicious software

CIOL Bureau
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LONDON, UK: Britons are being duped to buy malicious software in the guise of anti-virus protection by criminals posing as legitimate IT experts, officials warned Monday.


Investigators said hacking gangs are pocketing millions of pounds by infiltrating customers' computers and stealing sensitive banking details. They said criminals pose as officials of legitimate IT companies and call victims to offer fake security software that can be downloaded for around 30 pounds.

The crooks then combine credit card information from the sale with stolen personal information to defraud the customer or commit further crimes, The Independent reported.

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Sharon Lemon, in charge of fighting cyber crime at the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), said it is a "big business".

"In recent cases, we have seen gangs employing 300 to 400 people to run their operations. They can also be paying out as much as $150,000 a month to individual webmasters who are unwittingly advertising their fake software. This level of investment from criminals indicates that the returns are much heftier than this."

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The warning came Monday at the start of an internet security awareness week organised by, which is supported by government bodies, police and private companies.

Research conducted by the campaign group found one in four adult web users in Britain have been approached by someone offering to check their computer for viruses.

Thousands of spam emails offering virus check services have been sent out while almost half (48 percent) of web users have seen a pop-up window claiming their computer is infected.

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Tony Neate, of, said: "Web users should ignore calls from companies offering free virus checks, and be very cautious of any on-screen pop ups. Most reputable IT providers do not approach customers in this way without prior notice or a direct request."