Dud eBay trades make Aussies cyber-crime suckers

The high number of people that pay for but never receive goods purchased in online auctions has made Australia one of the world’s cyber-crime hotspots, a new survey reveals.

Australians are more likely to be the victims of cyber-crime than internet users in most other countries around the world, according to a survey of 1000 internet users in nine countries including the US, Germany, Italy and Spain by internet security firm AVG.

Just under 40% of Australian internet users surveyed said they have experienced some form of cyber-crime, ahead of Italians on 32%, US internet users on 28% and Spaniards on 14%.

And, according to the survey, Australians’ trusting approach to online auctions is our cyber-crime Achilles’ heel, with a high 16% reporting that they have not received goods they paid for in online auctions such as eBay.

That made it the most common form of cyber-crime experienced by Australian internet users, ahead of:

  • 14% who suffered financial damage as a result of fraudulent email.
  • 10% who were victims of phishing.
  • 8% who didn’t receive goods purchased online.
  • 5% suffering credit card fraud.

AVG marketing manager Lloyd Borrett says he is surprised by the prevalence of theft occurring through online auctions. “I would have thought we would see bigger numbers in areas like phishing and credit card fraud,” he says.

Borrett argues the explosion in online auction users in this country – eBay now estimates it has five million Australian users, almost a quarter of the population – could explain the figure. “Possibly as online auction purchasing has become more prevalent, some of the shonkier practices have emerged,” he says.

Australia’s status as a cyber-crime hotspot does not seem to overly worry internet users, however – despite the fact that 47% believe they are more likely to experience cyber-crime than burglary, assault or robbery, only 37% said it was a strong concern to them compared to 53% who described it as a slight concern.


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