The number of phishing emails grew by a frightening 42 percent last month, according to the latest report from the Anti Phishing Working Group (APWG).

In January, 12,845 completely new and unique phishing emails were reported to the organisation - an unprecedented level of criminal creativity even by recent depressing standards.

The APWG statistics also reveal that the number of unique phishing websites went up by 47 percent from 1,740 to 2,560, a doubling of October's figures. The group states that up to five percent of recipients will fall prey to the scam in any recent month - a far better "return" for criminals that most other online scams.

Another aspect of the crime is the continued use of non-port 80 http servers, a means of attempting to evade detection. Such servers are relatively rare but comprised 9.5 percent of the servers involved in phishing, actually a fall compared recent months - November’s figure was 19.2 percent, by comparison.

"The rise in non-port 80 hosted sites and the number of sites which are hosting phishing attacks continues to lead us to believe that the number of machines that are compromised and are being used to host these attacks is growing," the report noted.

Not surprisingly, the number of well-known brand names hijacked for phishing showed an increase, rising to 64 for January. The US is still the number one country in terms of the number of phishing sites hosted.

Meanwhile, the latest statistics from anti-spam service provider, OnlyMyEmail.com, put these figures in a broader perspective. The company suggests that phishing now makes up 0.58 percent of all spam email, with a further 2.4 percent of the total attempting fraud. Equally, though, phishing doesn’t have to be a large phenomenon in relative terms to be a significant or dangerous one.