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Indian politico's webmail hacked to punt lost-wallet scam

PLEASE SEND $3,500. MOST GRACIOUS.

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Fraudsters hacked into the webmail account of an Indian politician in a bid to sponge money from his contacts.

Senior Congress politico Mani Shankar Aiyar's Hotmail account was broken into on Wednesday in order to send messages claiming he'd lost his wallet and was in urgent need of cash to settle a $3,500 hotel bill in England and return home.

Indian Express tracked the former union minister down to New York, from where he confirmed his webmail account had been hacked into to send the dodgy "loan-requesting" emails. Unidentified hackers, who probably took advantage of weak passwords to break into the account in the first place, have locked Aiyar out of his account.

"Unfortunately, the hacker has changed my password so I cannot access my email account," Aiyar told Indian Express. "I am in New York attending a seminar on local self-government at Columbia University. I request all recipients to ignore this mischievous message."

The Times of India reports that fashion designer Rina Dhaka was hit by a similar scam last week. Delhi police are advising users to make use of strong (hard to guess) passwords, it adds.

Aiyer is far from the first high-profile politician left explaining a webmail hack. Previous examples have famously included Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former Republican VP candidate, as well as UK justice minister and former home secretary Jack Straw.

The 'person in plight' scam isn't new either, and has recently moved on from messages from hacked email accounts to electronic communiques from compromised social networking profiles. ®

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