The crooks are getting smarter and greedier all the time. This is a new scam so let your friends and family know about to help spread the word. New e-mail scam alert, PayPal offers $5 security key Clark wants to warn you about a new e-mail scam making the rounds. Criminals have been gaining access to e-mail contact lists and sweeping out all the addresses. They then send out a very distressed note in your name to every contact on your list. The e-mail will claim that you're in financial, legal or medical trouble and that you desperately need money right away. The criminals hope that even one or two of your closest friends will respond with an offer of funds. Public e-mail services such as Yahoo! have been hit by this scam, according to The New York Times. Sometimes the criminals will even change your password while they're in your account. At that point, it can be very difficult to reclaim your e-mail address. So if you get a suspicious e-mail from a relative or friend, call them first and find out what's going on before you give them your money. On a related note, there's now a $5 security key that really helps secure your PayPal account. The key generates a random code every 30 seconds that you must use to access your account. Even if a thief has your e-mail address and password, they still won't be able to get in without the code. These kinds of security keys have become so inexpensive yet so invaluable. Clark hopes that brokerage houses and banks will soon be offering these devices to customers. I got this information from Clark Howard, a radio host, and he has saved me once before when I almost got scammed.