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Most Swedes hit by internet crime: survey

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Most Swedes hit by internet crime: survey
12:16 CEST+02:00
More than half of all Swedes have been exposed to crime on the internet, a new survey published on Wednesday indicates.

Of those surveyed, 95 percent replied that they believe internet criminals never get caught, but experts advised that the more serious offences should always be reported to the police.

The spread of viruses is the most common crime, the survey by data security firm Symantec showed.

Many people reported having had their profiles on social network sites hacked or subjected to internet fraud, while five percent had been the victim of sex offences.

Symantec surveyed over 7,000 people in 14 countries in the survey. Despite the apparently high incidence of internet crime, Swedes escape relatively well, with only Japan reported to be more secure. In China 83 percent of respondents claimed to have been the victim of some form of internet crime.

Swedes also distinguished themselves in a number of other ways in the survey, with, for example, a greater proportion than average feeling very secure on the internet.

Furthermore Swedes are those with the lowest degree of faith in the ability of the police to solve internet crime, with 95 percent believing that criminals would never face justice.

Anders Anhlqvist at the Swedish National Police Board's internet surveillance unit conceded that there is some basis for the public's lack of faith in the police when it comes to internet crimes.

"Unfortunately it is the case that internet frauds are committed in long chains where every fraud is a relatively small crime and for us to utilize international legal assistance it has to concern a serious offence. That is why a large number of these cases are discontinued," he said.

A major problem for the Swedish police is that there are 21 authorities with their own registers for reports which can not be cross-checked as stipulated by Sweden's Data Inspection Board (Datainspektionen), Ahlqvist explained. This means that it can be difficult to link up the smaller incidents into a larger case.

"This is something which the criminals are also very aware of. They ensure that they spread the risks and that reports come in from various locations around the country," said Ahlqvist.

A further problem for the police is that banks and credit card companies compensate their customers for any damage and so crimes are often not reported.

The survey also shows how victims react to the crimes. Angry, upset and offended are among the most common responses.

"I often lecture on these crimes and usually also say that I am tired that Swedes seem so blasé. One loses a couple of thousand from their account, ring the bank, get the money back and a new plastic card and are happy with that," said Per Hellqvist at Symantec.

"But this survey shows that we are affected by internet crimes. We become both angry and frustrated."

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