A TOWN mayor says she feels violated after scammers hacked into her e-mail and sent messages to her friends asking for money.
Every contact in Garstang councillor, Lady Dulcie Atkins’ address book, received an e-mail entitled “Terrible Situation... Help!”
The message said Lady Atkins and her family, including husband, Conservative MEP Sir Robert Atkins were stuck in Madrid after being robbed at gun point.
The e-mail read: “It’s such a crazy experience for us, we need help flying back home, the authorities are not being supportive but the good thing is we still have our passport but don’t have enough money to get our flight ticket back home.
“Please I need you to lend me some money, I will reimburse you right as soon as I’m back home.”
Lady Atkins, of Lancaster Road, Garstang, said she was ‘shocked’ when she started receiving phone calls from friends.
She said: “I don’t know how it happened, I did have difficulty getting on my email account this week, I tried three times and it took a long time to get on.
“I sent an e-mail to my sister-in-law and to Robert’s cousin, I don’t know how it happened, as I’m so careful when I get any type of junk mail.
“It’s so worrying because it shows you can be as careful as you can and these things still happen, it is violating and very scary if you are elderly or on your own.”
Lady Atkins said she hopes her ordeal will act as a warning to others.
She said: “I was amazed at the number of people who phoned me to see if I was OK and to tell me about the e-mail I had received.
“I’ve a great support network but there are people out there who are vulnerable to this type of thing.”
Sir Robert said his wife had now changed all her passwords and her e-mail account.
He said: “We have made everyone aware it is a scam, the same thing happened to my sister-in-law – it causes mayhem.
“We will also make the local police aware of the situation so they can raise awareness in the area.”
Det Con Tony McClements, of Lancashire Police’s economic crime unit, said: “If you receive an e-mail from a contact that you recognise but something seems unusual or suspicious and does not sound like the person it has been sent from, delete the e-mail.
“Never send any money or provide your bank account details in reply to any e-mails.”