Cost could reach £150m a year
Internet retailers have been warned that their booming sales could be hit by fraudsters using and e-mail addresses.

A study by credit checking agency has found that orders from customers with these popular web-based e-mail accounts are up to six times more likely to be fraudulent. joint managing director Barry Stamp said that thieves would place large orders and then simply tell their card provider that they didn't recognise a transaction when it appeared on their bank account.

Stamp added that his practice known as chargeback was estimated to cost retailers£150 million a year. The situation is likely to worsen as the popularity of online shopping increases.

He said: 'Retailers should know that a yahoo or hotmail account should cause you to raise your guard - particularly if it is for a high value order. These accounts are definitely the weapon of choice for thieves.'

Stamp added that - if retailers decided against refusing transactions from these accounts - then they should at least consider taking steps to check someone's background and address before agreeing to do business.