CONMEN are hacking into personal information, spamming hundreds of friends and family members with alarming emails saying their loved ones have been mugged at gunpoint.
Over the past few weeks dozens of email accounts have been targeted by fraudsters who send out hundreds of heartfelt messages saying that the sender has been left stranded and penniless after being mugged on holiday before pleading for money to help them return home.
The message, which was sent to the Chronicle from a reader’s email account, says that the sender has been mugged of all their ‘cash, credit cards and cell’ and is unable to leave their hotel as they are having trouble settling the bill.
And, in a strikingly similar message, Chronicle photographer Simon Warburton’s account was hacked, spamming reporters and editors with convincing emails asking for an advanced payment to get him out of trouble after being robbed during a holiday in the Philippines.
Simon said that dozens of people rang him following the email to check that he was safe and to alert him that his account had been hacked, and that following the attack all his emails had been wiped from his account.
“I had about 50 calls on the morning that it happened, it must have been sent out to at least 100 people,” said Simon who said that the account was used for business and that 95 % of the people who had been spammed had been business contacts.
“Most people did think that it was spam but some people were fairly convinced because of the way it was written.”
Former Chester councillor Gwyn Cooper, who was also targeted by the conmen, said that hundreds of emails had been sent to councillors and community groups after her BT account was hacked, but that no one had been convinced by the messages.
“If anyone gets any messages like the one that was sent from my account, it is pretty obvious that they are a scam because of the language they use,” said Mrs Cooper.
“But unfortunately there are some people who fall for these sorts of things. The email was probably sent out to hundreds of people. I had so many calls telling me that my account had been hacked.”
Both Simon and Gwyn have now had their email accounts fixed, but are warning others not to open emails which appear to be from conmen trying to get an easy ride.