Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's e-mail account has been hacked, with the culprit now sending mails appealing for money on his behalf.
E-mails started originating from the leader's personal Hotmail account on Wednesday, and were circulated to everyone in his address book, stating that he had misplaced his wallet in England and was in urgent need of $3,500 to clear his hotel bills and get himself back home.
"I am sorry that I didn't inform you about my travelling to England for a seminar. I need a favour from you as soon as you receive this e-mail because 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 loan urgently," the mail, signed off with the name Mani, as his friends call him, said.
It added, "I will be needing a sum of $3,500 to sort out my hotel bills and get myself back home. I will appreciate whatever you can afford to help me with. I will pay you back as soon as I return."
When contacted, Aiyar who is in New York, confirmed that his e-mail account has been hacked and asked everyone to ignore the 'mischievous' message.
"Unfortunately, the hacker has changed my password so I cannot access my e-mail account. I am in New York attending a seminar on local self-government at Columbia University. I request all recipients to ignore this mischievous message," Aiyar told PTI.
When a reply was sent to Iyer's e-mail account showing willingness to help the leader, a new mail was sent with specific instructions to transfer the money to a particular London address in the name of Mani Shankar.
"Thanks a lot for your response and concern. As you know that it's impossible for me to access my bank account from here. The safest and fastest way for you to help me is by sending the money through Western Union. You can send the money to the details below through Western Union money transfer now," it said, giving out a London address and the format to be used while filling up the form.
It added, "Please as soon as you send me the money do not forget to e-mail me the transfer control number (MTCN) with details used in sending it."
Recently, an email account of a Delhi-based leading fashion designer too was hacked. -- PTI
Image: Mani Shankar Aiyar, Congress candidate from Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu, campaigning in his constituency in May 2009.
Photograph: Saisuresh Sivaswamy