This morning in the email inbox are messages from five new people using Gmail on the "Help! I ,have been mugged at GUN POINT! ,in Spain , please wire me your Moneys now" theme I mentioned earlier. All quite amusing. But I make these points as earnestly as I can:
1) This does not have to happen to you. You can reduce virtually to zero the risk of your Gmail being taken over by applying the free, sophisticated two-step verification process that Google has (admirably) been rolling out in the past few months. I'll spare the details now; the how-to is at their site. The conceptual point is, if you apply this system no one can get into your account remotely.* Not from Tianjin, Lagos, Leningrad, or Los Angeles. That is a huge difference in security, and you can apply it with minimal (though not zero**) bother.
2) You definitely DO NOT WANT this to happen to you. Is there any risk you expose yourself to if your account is taken over, worse than being the source of semi-literate appeals for emergency cash?
Yes. The risk you expose yourself to is the potential unrecoverable loss of all your cloud based data. Someone in control of your account could mark the entirety of its contents for "permanent deletion." (It's easy: you send all messages to Trash; then you press "Empty Trash Now." Poof, it's gone.) As Google explains on its official Gmail support site, if this happens, then in principle the data cannot be retrieved. Think about that and its ramifications for a moment. I don't know whether that has happened to the five people I received emails from this morning. But I know of at least four people it has happened to in the past week.