REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Even some of the bad guys take a break for the holidays. Reports of scam artists seeking to steal personal data with “spoof” e-mail messages grew by 50% in January over December, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. The Anti-Phishing Workgroup ( is a consortium founded by Tumbleweed Communications and a number of financial and e-commerce firms. The group said it received reports of 176 new, unique phishing attacks in January. Fifty-one of those were aimed at eBay users, followed by Citibank with 35, America Online with 34 and PayPal with 10. The fraudulent messages aim to fool recipients into divulging personal data such as credit card and savings and checking account numbers and passwords or Social Security numbers. Because these e-mails look “official,” up to 5% of recipients may respond to them, resulting in financial losses, identity theft, and other fraudulent activity, the Anti-Phishing Working Group says.

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