Over two hundred thousand cases of online financial fraud were commited in the UK last year - double the amount of real world robberies - according to a study carried out by criminologists at consultancy firm 1871.
The research, commissioned by online data management firm Garlik, estimates that 92,000 cases of online identity fraud were carried out in 2006 - 40% of all the ID crimes committed. Criminals are impersonating victims to obtain money, credit or even better jobs.
There were also 207,000 instances of Internet financial fraud last year - up 32% on 2005. The study reveals that 73% of card not present fraud was committed online in 2006 compared to 65% the previous year.
Tom Ilube, CEO, Garlik, says: "With information about individuals circulating the Internet reaching high levels it's ever more important for people to be vigilant about handing out their personal data online to ensure that criminals don't use and abuse it."
US IT security firm Sophos recently found that four out of 10 users of online social networking site Facebook readily divulge personal data over the network that could expose them to the risk of identity fraud.
Despite the risks, research commissioned by Lloyds TSB earlier this year found that half of UK adults are "not concerned" about Internet banking fraud.