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British minister targeted by Internet fraudsters: report

world Updated: Feb 25, 2009 10:27 IST

British Justice Secretary Jack Straw was targeted by Internet fraudsters who sent e-mails to his contacts claiming he was in need of emergency money while on a foreign trip, according to a report on Wednesday.

Straw told his local constituency's newspaper, the Lancashire Telegraph in northern England, that the scammers had e-mailed ministry officials, ruling Labour Party members, and constituents asking for 3,000 dollars (2,300 euros) because he had lost his wallet while in the Nigerian capital of Lagos.

The fake e-mail, issued under the heading The Right Hon Jack Straw MP, said: "I misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money and other valuable things were kept."

"I would like you to assist me with a soft loan urgently to settle my hotel bills and get myself back home".

It claimed that Straw, a former home secretary and foreign secretary, was visiting Lagos for a project called Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, though he was in fact in Britain.

One constituent apparently replied to the e-mail, but no money was offered.

The account, a Hotmail e-mail address that he used to deal with constituency matters, was suspended by Microsoft.

"The Internet is wonderful in many ways, but these gangs put a lot of effort in because they make money from it," Straw told the newspaper.

"In a lot of cases they do get people to cough up. But I think it was so obviously ridiculous that I could go off trekking in Africa and I would lose my wallet."