JACK Straw’s Blackburn office has been infiltrated by Nigerian IT fraudsters who sent requests for money to hundreds of his contacts.

The emails claimed Mr Straw had lost his wallet while he was on charity work in Africa and needed 3,500 US dollars to get home.

They were sent to constituents, Ministry of Justice officials, Labour members and council bosses - and triggered an urgent response involving the Richmond Terrace office and officials in London.

It is thought between 100 and 200 of the emails, which carried the official heading The Right Hon Jack Straw MP, were sent.

Mr Straw confirmed the emails had been sent to a “significant number of people” in his address book.

He said there were no security issues relating to his cabinet post as it was his Blackburn email address that was targeted.

He added: “I started getting phone calls from various constituents asking if I was really in Nigeria needing 3,000 dollars.

“It was an issue for constituents, not the Government.

"We are checking all that and I am assured there’s no evidence that confidentiality of constituents was affected.”

The Blackburn MP, who set up the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit to crack down on internet hackers when he was Home Secretary in 2001, added: “A lot of work goes on by the serious organised crime organisation in this country.

“The internet is wonderful in many ways, but these gangs put a lot of effort in because they make money from it.

"In a lot of cases they do get people to cough up.

“But I think it was so obviously ridiculous that I could go off trekking in Africa and I would lose my wallet.”

The saga began on Thursday when the office received an email saying its account would be suspended unless a reply was sent.

But when a member of staff replied, they were blocked out of the account and constituents began to phone the office asking about the email they had received.

It said Mr Straw was travelling to Africa for a project called Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, and was at an address in the Nigerian capital Lagos.

He is quoted as saying: “I misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money and other valuable things were kept.

“I would like you to assist me with a soft loan urgently to settle my hotel bills and get myself back home”.

One constituent is believed to have replied to the email, but nobody offered any money.

The Hotmail account was later suspended by Microsoft officials.