1. ITV Report

Fake bank websites growing in number and sophistication

26 million people use online banking in the UK Photo: PA/PA Wire

Fake bank websites are becoming more common and sophisticated as cybercriminals create ever more realistic frauds, new research has found.

The banks most frequently targeted for fake websites in the UK are HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, Barclays, Reliance Bank, ING Direct, Lloyds Banking Group, and Standard Chartered.

An example of a fake RBS webpage Credit: Bitdefender

Many of the websites look incredibly realistic, with identical logos and banners to their genuine counterparts.

Even the web addresses (URLs) can be very similar. For example, the address of the webpage shown above is www.r-b-s-online.co.uk instead of www.rbs.co.uk.

The antivirus solutions firm Bitdefender, which conducted the research, has provided this advice to help spot fake bank websites:

An example of a fake NatWest webpage Credit: Bitdefender

Around 26 million people use online banking in the UK and the number is growing by around three percent each year. In 2011, more than £28 million was lost to online banking fraud.

Cybercriminals have also started targeting professionals in the finance sector by creating websites for completely imaginary companies, instead of imitating the websites of existing ones.

These sorts of scams account for almost a third of all fake bank websites.