Hacked: Angela Rippon tells her story

Angela Rippon

I'm fairly savvy when it comes to using the internet. But even I fell for an email scam that had, potentially, serious consequences.

I was away on holiday, logged on to my emails, and found one warning me that my account was about to be terminated.

I panicked and followed the links which wanted my password to secure the site.

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Panic doesn't begin to describe what I went through then.”

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Twelve hours later I started getting frantic calls from friends saying they had received an email from me.

It was claiming I was desperately asking for money, I had been mugged and needed financial help to get back home.

Most of them realised it was nonsense, knowing I would never send such a message but they were all warning me that my email had been hacked.

So I panicked - for the second time - and tried to send a block email to everyone in my address book saying "ignore this rubbish - I'm fine."

Rip Off Britain investigates email hacking.

That was when the full horror of what had happened hit me. My address book was empty. Every single one of my thousand or so contacts had been wiped.

Panic doesn't begin to describe what I went through then

Fortunately I was able to contact my internet service provider - they blocked any further emails from my hackers.

Within 24 hours they were able to reinstate every single contact and make my account secure by changing passwords and other technical stuff.

I contacted just about everyone that had received the bogus message. Fortunately no-one had sent money to the address that the hackers gave.

Worldwide scam

I discovered that this bogus email scam (also known as 'phishing') is just part of a massive online scam that reaps millions of pounds for the scammers worldwide.

At one time it was letters through the post saying you had won a lottery somewhere in the world.

Spotting an email scam

  • Be wary of urgent warnings, especially claims your account is about to be suspended. Scammers want you to panic and give your details
  • Never share your password. Ever
  • Bad grammar and spelling mistakes are signs of a scammer
  • Be careful of emails that with a phrase like 'Dear valued customer' instead of your name
  • Check the sender's email address. The part after the '@' should be the same as the company's web address.
  • Check links before clicking. If you hover your cursor over a link you will usually see the address where it will take you in the bottom left hand corner of your browser
  • If you think your account has been hacked, contact your email provider

Source: BBC WebWise

More advice on staying safe online

"Just send us your bank details and we will forward the money to you".

Oh so plausible, and oh so fraudulent and criminal.

In the two years since my email was hacked, the scam has got even bigger.

I regularly get emails purporting to come from trusted internet service providers telling me that my e-mail is about to be changed or discontinued. Sometimes as many as half-a-dozen a week.

It makes me so very angry to think that there are wicked individuals who are just sitting at their computers, thinking of ways to rip off and steal money from hard working people.

If you know of someone who might be vulnerable to this sort of scam, a relative or friend, then you should warn them about these messages and the consequences of falling foul of these criminal scams.

Help them to understand how to beat the scammers and not be taken in by them.

Information is the most powerful and effective defence we have against the scammers. So spread the word and help us to bury the scammers.

Rip Off Britain is on BBC One every weekday at 09.15.

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