Scam emails are being sent to Sydneysiders allegedly from friends in desperate need of money to get out of trouble overseas, the NSW government has caution.
An alert about the international scam was issued on Friday by NSW Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge.
"According to the scam email, my friend, Ross Steele, was stuck in Spain, missing a wallet and no funds for accommodation or means to get back to Sydney," she said.
Mr Steele said his email had strangely stopped last month, with his friends starting to get fake emails from him a few days later saying he was stranded in Madrid and needed money to be sent to a Western Union account.
"The email also claimed I was unable to be contacted by phone," he said, adding that at least five of his friends had sent money.
"The worry is that I still have no idea how the scammer was able to hack into my email account."
Ms Judge urged people to protect themselves by checking their privacy settings, be careful about what personal information they put on the internet and check how much information was available.
"If you receive an email that appears to be from a family member or friend claiming to be in trouble look at the way the email is written, ask yourself whether the email sounds like it was written by that person," she said.
"Never send your online account details through an email and think carefully before you give away any personal or financial information."