David Miliband's name being used by fraudsters

FORGET dodgy diet pills, hair-loss potions and Viagra.

Internet fraudsters have hijacked David Miliband's name in their latest scam to reel in gullible victims.

An e-mail has been circulating claiming to be from the South Shields MP and Foreign Secretary, offering money to people in trouble due to the global economic slowdown.

The message, with the subject header "global economic crisis relief aid," asks recipients for their bank details so that they can receive money from a fictitious "recession relief programme fund".

A Foreign Office spokesman issued a warning over the attempted fraud, saying: "This e-mail is a scam. We suggest that you never give out your personal details if you are unsure of the legitimacy of the message."

Meanwhile, one cyber-savvy joker on Twitter has set up a fake account on behalf of Mr Miliband, writing a series of increasingly bizarre updates.

On March 24, an update read: "Off for a walk round the houses. Must remember to take the shortest security staff so they don't block my sun."

On March 18 'he' wrote: "If Gordon has 5 and you have 5, Gordon has more money than you, says Chuck Norris."

On March 2, it adds: "We'll see the minimum price on alcohol in Britain over my drunk dead body!"

And on Facebook there are three Miliband bootleggers all pretending to be the minister of state, as well as scores of groups set up in admiration of him as a sex symbol.

It's understood that his constituency office and ministerial office both regularly field calls from national journalists and members of the public asking whether any of his online personas are real.

But a source close to Mr Miliband said: "He represents Britain around the world, represents South Shields on the national stage, so how would he have time to mess around updating Twitter all day?

"David is positive about new media, and was the first Cabinet Minister to have a blog, but I just don't think his schedule would allow him to juggle Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and what have you."

He's not the first person in politics to be hit by online scammer.

In February Justice Secretary Jack Straw was targeted by a similar scam, found to be the work of Nigerian Internet fraudsters.

That e-mail was sent to hundreds of Straw's contacts, claiming that he had lost his wallet while on charity work in Africa, and urgently needed $3,000 to get home.