Aug 26 2011 by Alison Lowson, Stirling Observer Friday
A BRIDGE of Allan writer has become the victim of a cruel electronic hacking fraud.
Douglas Jackson had all of his personal details and contacts ‘stolen’ from his internet account.
The theft came to light just hours after the launch in Edinburgh of his latest book – aptly named The Doomsday Testament.
Family and friends were bombarded with bogus emails asking for urgent financial help after alleging he was stuck in Spain.
The emails revealed that the author – and former Stirling Observer journalist – had been robbed in Madrid shortly after arriving there and needed £1500 immediately in order to return home to Scotland.
It is understood that one person sent money to a false bank account – only to receive a further email requesting more.
Last night Douglas (55) urged people to be extra vigilant when submitting personal details onto computer sites.
He said: “The first I knew of it was on Friday morning when I looked on Facebook and one of my contacts had sent me a message warning I’d been hacked.
“I didn’t think it was a big problem until I checked my emails as I had about 400 saved for various reasons and they were all gone.
“The hackers had also stolen my entire contacts list and when I did a security scan on my computer I found that they’d placed a trojan virus that is used by organised crime gangs to steal your passwords and has been used in multi-million bank frauds all over the world.”
He quickly realised the scale of the problem when his daughter Nikki showed him an email that she had allegedly received from him.
Douglas added: “I felt sick to think that everyone I’d ever had contact with on the internet had been sent something like that.
“The frightening thing was that they seemed to know that I’d spent time in Spain recently because Nikki had been working there.
“If I’d had my contacts list I could have sent out a warning, but I wasn’t able to even do that.
“I immediately went on Facebook where I have about 600 friends on my personal and author pages and warned everybody, then did the same on Twitter.”
He discovered that a friend of his mother had been hoodwinked by the email and sent money.
“Worse still the hackers had come back to her and asked for more money to help pay a hotel bill,” he added.
“It just makes you incredibly sad to think that these cyber vultures are able to prey on someone’s basic instinct to help a friend in need.”
The writer warned that anyone could be at risk. He operates his internet account through British Telecom but he revealed that the company offered little assistance when he contacted them.
He said: “They didn’t seem interested, which is pretty outrageous.
“I spent about three hours on the phone to a young Indian guy trying to get the account working again and he was very good.
“But you’d think that if phone hacking is so prolific they’d have some sort of provision to protect their customers. I feel really let down by them.
“Surely they should have some kind of hotline where you can report it and get some kind of instant response.”
Last night a spokesman for British Telecom declined to comment until the matter had been investigated.