We recently received this message from a reader of our blog:

People on my contact list have received an email that's supposed to be from me telling them that I am in trouble and asking them to send me money. An address of a hotel where I was supposed to be staying (the address is genuine) and a suggested method of money transfer was given. How did this happen? How can I prevent it happening again?

This is a fairly common and very sinister scam because it preys on the goodwill of your friends. If people on your contact list are getting emails like this, it probably means that someone has stolen or guessed the password to your email account and your email address has been hijacked.

What to do:

  • If you can still get into your email account, sign in and change your password.
  • If you can't sign in, check the help file of your email provider. You can probably use additional information that you provided when you signed up in order to reset your password.

If these methods don't work, contact your email provider. If you use Hotmail, see Hotmail hijacked? Here's what to do.