Hacked off!

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A LOCAL woman wants reassure her friends and family that she is not stuck in Cyprus needing money, after her e-mail account was hijacked over by scammers (writes Shona Beaton).

Jane Ferguson’s account was taken over by scammers who e-mailed everyone in her address book asking for money to get her out of a difficult situation.

“It was my Hotmail account that was hacked by Nigerian hackers, who took over the account.

“They took over my password and put their own one in.

“How they got my e-mail address and my password I have absolutely no idea.

“They then sent out an e-mail to all of my address book saying I was stuck in Cyprus, that I had had my phone stolen and my money stolen and could they help me with £2200.

“The English of the e-mail was not good but it was good enough that my friends from France or Holland, or various other places would not know that there was anything wrong with the English.

“The system would have been that they would have expected people to reply to the e-mail asking where they should send the money and then they would set up somewhere the money would be sent to so they could go and pick it up.

“Luckily most people realise it was scam and they phoned me because they realised that because it was election time I would not be in Cyprus.”

When Jane tried to get hold of her address book, to reassure everyone that she was safe and the e-mail had been a scam, she came across more difficulties.

“When I went on to get my password back from Hotmail Windows Live they said it would take 24 hours to get the account set up again.

“I then went on to Google and searched for Hotmail technical help. I ended up with a company who said they were Hotmail’s technical support but they weren’t.

“They were probably the genuine company giving computer support; they did all the right things to start with but then announced they were going to charge me.

“Hotmail do not charge, it is a free service.”

Having paid by credit card Jane was able to contact her credit card company to cancel the payment.

“I was able to explain to my credit card company that they had put themselves forward as the official technical help of Hotmail.

“Also, they said they were in Edinburgh but when they phoned up to ask why I had turned my computer off, as recommended by my local computer expert, the caller ID was an international call.”

Although people may have opened the e-mail Jane thinks it will be virus free.

“Because the scammers were looking for money the chances of them putting a virus in the e-mail is fairly slim.

“So if people have received and opened the e-mail, they should check to see if the anti-virus is up-to-date, but it should not harm the computer.”

With scams like this happening more and more Jane has suggested that families choose a password that they include in an e-mail if they are in genuine difficulty.

“They suggested in the radio that you have passwords for very secure situations, less secure situations and a password for rubbish situations and then you know which one to use.

“It is easy to remember three passwords rather than a different password for every account.”