Hackers have compromised an email address used by UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw, in an attempt to run a money scam on as many as 200 individuals.
Reports in The Daily Telegraph said that the thieves took over Straw's Hotmail account and sent messages to a number of his contacts asking for money.
The messages reportedly claimed that Straw had been stranded in Nigeria after losing his wallet, and needed $3,000 (£2,000) via a wire transfer to return home. The messages contained Straw's email heading and actual address.
Scammers have been using the same 'stranded' tactic on hacked Facebook accounts. Compromised accounts are used to send messages to the victim's friend list asking for money to return home from a trip.
But this is the first time that the scam has netted an individual with such a high profile. Among those believed to have received the message are Straw's constituents and local labour and community leaders.
"Of course, it's unlikely that anyone would really believe that Jack Straw was stranded in Nigeria with no method of returning to the UK," wrote Sophos senior security consultant Graham Cluley in a blog post.
"But, perhaps more worryingly, whoever broke into Straw's account has had access to his address book and emails that he has sent and received in the past. That information could be very useful for identity thieves."
Straw joins a list of high-profile government figures and celebrities who have fallen victim to hackers in recent months.
In September, a US university student was able to access vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's email account, while a few months later, a hack on Twitter led to pranksters taking over the accounts of Britney Spears, Barack Obama and the Fox News channel.
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