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Cumbria trade union official falls victim to cyber crime

A Carlisle councillor and trade union official has fallen victim to cybercrime.

Willie Whalen photo
Willie Whalen

Fraudsters hacked into the computer of Willie Whalen, a Ucatt official and Labour city and county councillor for Castle ward, and deleted more than 1,000 emails.

They then sent a bogus email to all his contacts, purporting to be from Mr Whalen, saying he was stranded in Spain and asking for £1,500 to be wired urgently to settle a hotel bill.

Mr Whalen said: “My emails have been cleared out. My inbox is empty. There were copies of letters and union business, some of it confidential, and it has all gone. It’s frightening.

“I don’t understand how it happened because I’ve got all the anti-virus software.”

He first realised something was wrong on Monday when he began to receive telephone calls from friends and colleagues who had received the bogus email.

He said: “The phone went bananas. I had calls from all over the country. For someone like me who is in public life this is extremely serious.”

His council emails go to different email addresses and were not affected.

Anyone who answered the bogus plea for help would have paid money into the fraudsters’ bank account. Mr Whalen’s one consolation is that anyone who knows him would smell a rat straight away – he is the last person to run up a £1,500 hotel bill on holiday.

He said: “A bed and breakfast in Silloth would be too expensive for me. I’m just Willie Whalen, the working class lad, trying to make sense of the madness.

“It is worrying. I’d hate it if anyone fell for this and acted upon it.”

He has reported the crime to his email provider, BT, and to Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre run by the Home Office.

Jamey Johnson, the head of Action Fraud, said: “Anyone who believes their account has been hacked in this way should contact their email provider and report the incident to us.

“If you suspect you have received a scam email, do not respond and do not click on links or open attachments.”

Have your say

Scambrose: very good post. I agree with every biting comment.

Perhaps Mr. Whalen could kick-start Professor Joe's "Knowledge City" revolution by going on a computer course.

Posted by BM on 9 July 2012 at 19:15

No Johnstitch, they use a secure portable storage device for 'Labour's masterplan for regenerating Carlisle'.

It's called the 'back of a fag packet'.

Posted by TB on 6 July 2012 at 21:18

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