Symantec has stated that around 43 million people have been duped by ‘scareware’ phishing scams over the course of the last year.
According to the BBC, the security company has identified 250 variants of the scam, thought to generate over £750,000 per annum for criminals according to data gathered between July 2008 and June 2009.
‘Scareware’ is what Symantec is now calling the process of using a false security alert to trick the user in to submitting their credit card details to ‘upgrade’ their firewall or antivirus software for a fee of up to £60.
Symantec spokeman Con Mallon told the Beeb that some scareware was capable of taking the scam even further.
“They could hold your computer to ransom where they will stop your computer working or lock up some of your personal information, your photographs or some of your Word documents,” he stated.
"They will extort money from you at that point. They will ask you to pay some additional money and they will then release your machine back to you."