Report on Phishing: A Report to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada and the Attorney General of the United States [open pdf - 165KB]
"Phishing refers to luring techniques used by identity thieves to fish for personal information in a pond of unsuspecting Internet users. It is a general term for the creation and use by criminals of e-mails and websites that have been designed to look like they come from well-known, legitimate and trusted businesses, financial institutions and government agencies. These criminals deceive Internet users into disclosing their bank and financial information or other personal data such as usernames and passwords. Phishing continues to be one of the rapidly growing classes of identity theft scams on the Internet that is causing both short-term losses and long-term economic damage. In May of 2006, over 20,000 individual phishing complaints were reported, representing an increase of over 34% from the previous year. Recent data suggests that criminals are able to convince up to 5% of recipients to respond to their e-mails, resulting in an increasing number of consumers who have suffered credit card fraud, identity fraud, and financial loss. Estimated losses from phishing attacks are now in the billions of dollars worldwide, and those losses are growing."
U.S. Department of Justice: http://www.justice.gov/