rohitm918 writes "A study by Microsoft Research concludes that phishers make very little (PDF): '...low-skill jobs pay like low-skill jobs, whether the activity is legal or not.' They also find that the Gartner numbers that everyone quotes ($3.2B/year etc) are rubbish, off by a factor of 50. 'Even though it harvests "free money," phishing generates total revenue equal to the total costs incurred by the actors. Each participant earns, on average, only as much as he would have made in the opportunities he gave up elsewhere. As the total phishing effort increases the total phishing revenue declines: the harder individual phishers try the worse their collective situation gets. As a consequence, increasing effort is a sign of failure rather than of success.'"