The vice-chairman of Crawley Lions has urged people to make sure they regularly change their passwords after his email account was hacked.
Gary Davies, of Horley, received dozens of messages and phone calls from concerned friends and acquaintances after everyone in his address book received an email begging for money.
The message claimed that Gary was in Limassol, Cyprus, and that he needed money as he had lost his bag, passport, mobile phone and credit card.
Describing the hacking, Gary said: “I lost 1,060 emails – everything in my email folder. All my old messages and things to do with Crawley Carnival. I was beside myself.
“I had phone calls and emails coming in from the Lions of the district and further afield – my mobile and land line were going non-stop.
“The Lions sent out an alert to all 1,400 Lions in the district telling them that I am safely at home, complaining about the weather and how nice it would be in Limassol.”
But he added: “I am computer literate but would find this very, very frightening.
“To do what they did they must have had my password.
“If I was giving any advice, it would be to change your password as often as you can. I didn’t think my password was easy to guess – it gave away nothing about me but some one was clever enough to get it.
“It’s disturbing and worrying and something I wouldn’t want to happen again.”
Detective Inspector Chris Neilson, of Sussex Police, said: “Fraud, such as this, is obviously distressing for the victim and action is being taken by a national agency to record and investigate it.
“Often fraud does not fall neatly within police force boundaries and it is because of this that Action Fraud has been set up.”
To contact Action Fraud, log on to www.action.fraud.co.uk or call 0300 123 2040.
DI Neilson added: “Our officers will help people who need advice and assistance in making their report, and we will continue to investigate offences reported to us direct via 101 or 999, if a person suspected of committing the offence can be positively identified at the outset and is known within the force area, or where the person reporting or the victim is vulnerable, or when a crime is in progress.”