Phil Lynott statue: artist scam

A Dublin artist who had his email taken over by a virus which issued hundreds of emails begging for money has warned others not to fall for the same scam.

Paul Daly (45) from Raheny was horrified last week when friends received an email from his own mail address demanding money. The fraudulent email claimed Daly was contacting them from Perth, Australia, where he was at the bedside of an aunt who was in a "critical condition" suffering from "uterine fibroid".

Claiming the woman's condition was deteriorating and that she needed emergency surgery to stay alive, the email asked for US$3,500 to help cover medical expenses.

"We've all received this kind of email before and not been taken in," Daly told the Sunday Tribune. "What made this believable is that it was sent from own my email address. Given I'm Irish, the detail that I was with an aunt in Australia made it all the more believable."

Daly believes the scam originated with an email he received the previous week which then took control of his Yahoo email account and started sending bogus emails.

"I remember reading it, but I had no idea what it was going to do to my account until friends contacted me," said Daly.

Best known for his landmark bronze statue of Phil Lynott on Dublin's Harry Street, the artist believes the emails could cost him future commissions while damaging his reputation.

"As a working artist I make my living from commissions, sculptures and portraits. What makes this email so damaging is people believe I am contacting them directly to look for money."