Friends worry as e-mail claims parish council clerk taken hostage

A HOAX e-mail was sent to a Moulton woman’s friends and family saying she had been taken hostage.

Susan Wilson was alerted to the scam after people in her contacts list started calling her to check she was OK.

They had all received an e-mail claiming to be from Susan saying she was being held captive in Spain and asking for money to secure her release.

She said: “The e-mail asked these people to send 1,000 euros to pay for me to get home.

“I think most of them realised straight away that it was a scam, but a few rang to check because we were actually on holiday and away from home at the time.

“As I am clerk to Weston Parish Council my contacts list also includes details for the police so they received one of these e-mails claiming to be from me and they did send someone out to my home to check.

“They said they were 99.9 per cent sure it was a hoax but needed to be 100 per cent.”

Fortunately, Susan doesn’t believe any of her contacts fell for the scam, but she wants to warn others who might have their e-mail account hacked in the same way. She said it could potentially be very distressing to some people.

A spokesman for Lincolnshire Police said they had received reports of a similar scam where a person’s e-mail account was hacked and friends and family received an e-mail purportedly from them saying they were stranded and needed money for a plane ticket home.

She said: “This type of scam can be pretty convincing because people’s first reaction to a plea for help from someone they know is to hand over the money to get them home.

“Often when you receive an e-mail from a stranger asking for money it is obvious straight away that it is a scam, but this one is different because it’s an e-mail from a familiar name.

“It can be quite easy for these people to hack into e-mail accounts so everyone should think carefully before handing over money in response to something like this.

“Our advice would always be to check first.”

Mrs Wilson said the e-mail went out to more than 100 people in her contacts list, with at least a dozen people calling to check on her welfare.

But she said: “I rang work to ask them how much they would have paid to rescue me and they said they wouldn’t have paid anything because I wasn’t worth it.”