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Shoppers get sick of spam

Spammers are finding it harder to get users to part with cash, with the proportion of people buying their goods dropping by nearly half, according to Sophos.

The security firm said its most recent poll showed that just 5% of computer users now admit to purchasing goods sold via spamming methods, compared to 9% this time last year.

The firm released the results of its poll this week to coincide with the run-up to Valentine's Day, a key target for spammers according to Sophos.

"The results are in - spammers are no longer facing such an easy ride when it comes to flogging goods, whether they're personalised Valentine's Day gifts or the latest and greatest in ten-day weight-loss medication," said Graham Clueley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "It's encouraging to see a drop in the number of people who own up to making purchases, but with the number of e-mail users worldwide, 4% is still more than enough to keep the spammers in business," he said.

Sophos said it has seen a rise in the number of spam campaigns selling romantic gifts such as jewellery, chocolate and lingerie this week. The security company said many of these campaigns use graphics embedded in the e-mail - a tactic that is becoming increasingly popular with spammers to evade filters that scan text content only.