CHINA - The number of male victims of Internet fraud was nearly double that of females last year while conmen were likely to get more money from female Web users on an individual basis, a report on Thursday revealed.
About 64 per cent of the fraud victims were male in 2013, according to Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd, a Beijing-based Internet security company. It noted that although the number of female online shoppers greatly outnumbers their male counterparts, females tend to make payments on a few well-known e-commerce websites while male shoppers were more adventurous about purchasing online.
"Men are willing to try unfamiliar sites if prices are lower," said the report.
Some online gaming, gambling and video-dating websites are set up as traps specially designed for men. More than 90 per cent of the victims of online gaming cons were men and the ratio hit close to 100 per cent for Web-based video-dating frauds, it said. Males more easily fall for almost all the different types of fraud traps - from online shopping and ticket buying to top-up services - than females.
"Generally speaking, male shoppers are less suspicious than females when choosing sellers and that's why they are way more vulnerable," the report said.
Relatively unsophisticated and easy-to-detect phishing sites are the main channels for Internet fraud in China, with males in greater danger, although most of them believe they possess better computer knowledge than females, said Qi Xiangdong, president of Qihoo. "It is astonishing that a simple fraud can net tens of thousands of Chinese Internet users," he said.
The company has received more than 30,000 compensation requests from its customers claiming they have been cheated by phishing websites. More than 2.2 million phishing sites were detected by the company last year.
Phishing sites are designed to acquire money and sensitive information such as credit card numbers and passwords from visitors. "The nature of online fraud tends to be straightforward and technologically simple because high-tech frauds tend to be expensive to set up and their perpetrators may receive harsher punishments if they get caught," said Qi.
Although it is harder to con female shoppers, they tend to lose more money if they are swindled, according to the report.
The average money lost is close to 1,600 yuan ($257) for each female while the sum was less than 1,400 yuan among males. Females do not fall into fraud traps easily but if they do and lower their guard, they are more likely to lose more money, said the report.
Qi said because Internet security risks remain rife, both the public and government should put more energy into cracking down on online crime.
"The central government set up a high-level cyber security office this year. It's a strong signal that the nation will beef up its ability to safeguard Web security," Qi said.
China is the world's largest market for online retailing. Turnover for the country's online retail sector is expected to increase from $294 billion in 2013 to $672 billion in 2018, a compound annual growth rate of 18 per cent, according to research company Forrester Research Inc.