By Brian Troutmanbtroutman@abcnews4.com
FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) -- Folly Beach mayor Tim Goodwin was in trouble. He was stranded in London with his family after being robbed of his cash, credit cards and cell phone. He needed help.
That's what hackers who took control of his personal email account wanted everyone in his contact list to believe.
It was what Goodwin described as a sophisticated scam to get money out of anyone feeling sympathetic. Goodwin was not in the UK for the holiday and he was not in any trouble.
The email told Goodwin's friends and family members that he needed $1,400 to get out of the country. They were told he attempted to contact the embassy and was ignored. They were told to reply to the email for instructions on how to send the money. They were told he had been attacked by four armed robbers.
"One person replied and then they were provided an address in London -- Timothy Goodwin at 19-20 Great Sutton Street, London," Mayor Goodwin said.
When asked if he knew a Timothy Goodwin in London, the mayor answered, "Absolutely not. I have been to London, but I don't know a Timothy Goodwin there."
The mayor said he spent 2.5 hours on Friday with an IT guy, working to get his email account back in order and his computer system back under control. On top of that, he said he got calls all day long from people concerned about his well-being.
"It's been a day of trying to figure out how to get away from these computer people," Goodwin said. "...They deleted all my contacts to keep me from going back to say it was a hoax."
Bits of advice to prevent others from becoming victim?
"The one thing my IT guy advised was to look for a more secure email route," Goodwin said. "He suggested gmail as one of the most secure."
"I'm glad to get the word out and help people not become a victim of this type of issue. Be very leery when you open your email. If something looks fishy... don't open it."