With less than an hour to finish a documentary I was working on, my fingers were flying over my keyboard as I wrestled with the script, phone calls and emails with a researcher abroad while watching multiple TV screens in the cutting room and talking simultaneously to people around me.Suddenly an alarming email popped into my Yahoo mailbox from Yahoo itself, saying my account was about to be shut down unless I confirmed all my details with them.Phishing refers to electronic bait put out by criminals to catch financial information and carry out fraud by using your computer passwords.

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Within a minute, phone calls started flooding in from alarmed contacts who had received the message.

I did not know at first what they were talking about - the hackers had changed my password to shut me out of my computer.

So I change tack, and search for live events taking place now.

Surely, the person who organised them would bother to turn up? Finally, I find a huddle of people at a “disco”, a good 20 minutes after I first completed my re-entry into Second Life.

The same email and text was sent out in my name to nearly 1,000 people all over the world.

'I am in a critical situation in Madrid' the emails said, 'all my money got stolen in the hotel where I lodged due to a robbery incident - I want you to help me with a loan of 1,500 pounds'.

Three years ago, I underwent one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life – and I barely even left the office.

I spent a week virtually living and breathing inside Second Life: the massively multiplayer online world that contains everything from lottery games to libraries, penthouses to pubs, skyscrapers to surrogacy clinics. Back then, the world and his dog were falling over themselves to “bea part of it”.

I walk and then fly around the landscape for ten minutes or so, but can’t find a single soul to shoot the breeze with.

Well, except for a smattering of Second Life bots, which is the intellectual equivalent of striking up a conversation with The Speaking Clock.

I vaguely remember reading that Second Life had introduced voice chat a while back, providing an audio accompaniment to the text-based chatter we used to make do with in “the good old days”.