Email users have been warned to look out for the so-called “Peter Pan” virus, after thousands of people received a scam email claiming to be a receipt of a booking to see a pantomime in Bournemouth this Christmas.

The Guardian report that hundreds of thousands of people across the UK are thought to have been on the receiving end of the email, in what has been described as one of the most convincing examples yet of a phishing email designed to trick users into unwittingly parting with sensitive information.

The virus is typically innocent looking in appearance – it claims to be an invoice for £145 for nine tickets to the 7pm performance of Peter Pan at the Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre on 23 December.

However, the emails are being sent out by fraudsters, who have set up the attached e-tickets to trigger the download and installation of malicious software as soon as people go to open them.

Experts warn that the virus is designed to track everything from passwords to credit card information, and is specifically targeting Brits who are in a rush at work.

Online security blogger Derek Knight told The Guardian that the attachment may even contain malware such as Cryptolocker – a virus which locks the recipient out of their computer until they pay a ransom to the scammers.

The Bournemouth Pavilion said on its website that it is aware of the threat and that a number of “precautionary measures” have been taken to protect data, systems and networks.