MP acts over phishing ‘bombardment’

By Alex Stevenson

A Conservative backbencher who has received over 40 emails so far this year seeking to illegally obtain his personal data has decided to act against the growing problem of phishing.

Nigel Evans, MP for Ribble Valley and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on identity fraud, wants consumers and businesses which have fallen victim to a phishing attack to get in touch.

Phishing involves fraudsters sending out emails from apparently official sources seeking personal data, often offering money in return. In the US the number of citizens receiving phishing emails doubled from 57 million in 2004 to 109 million in 2008.

The problem is affecting Britain too. The GetSafeOnline campaign warns 44 per cent of small businesses on these shores have fallen victim to identity fraud through phishing, internet scams and other forms of data theft.

Mr Evans hopes to “build up a picture” of how these scams work in a bid to reduce the impact on vulnerable people, like the elderly, for whom the loss of even £100 is significant.

“It recently came to our attention that one gentlemen has lost over £100,000 by paying money to somebody that he did not know but who was supposedly ill in Africa and they were not,” he said.

“We are very concerned about the growing success of these email scams. They are particularly damaging at a time when people are increasingly financially stretched.”

According to the APPG “several” MPs have been victims themselves, despite the fact – as Mr Evans explained – there is no realistic prospect of receiving the cash offered.

“People have got to be wary that there is nobody who is trying to give them £100s and £1000s to transfer money from their account to yours,” he added.

“There are no organisations entering your name into a lottery – when they tell you that you have won millions, you have not.”

Those who receive a phishing email should remember a real organisation would never ask an individual to provide personal information, the APPG advises.

They should avoid replying but instead forward the email on to the bank organisation concerned.