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Free email is a great deal, until your account is hacked.

Randy Broad thought he was a few moves ahead, but a hacker put his email account in check.

I really don't know how they got in there, Broad said.

A couple of weeks ago Randy's Gmail account was hacked. Someone sent out an email to his contacts saying he was in Spain, got mugged and needed money.

My friends have a sense of humor and all told, I think about $500,000 was sent to me, he said.

Funny to his friends, but the laughs ended when the author and cancer survivor tried contacting Google to reclaim his account and couldn't.

I wanted this thing fixed so it was very frustrating, Broad said.

Robert Muller is an computer security specialist in Seattle who says hacking free, web-based email accounts is made easier when people keep their email and social networking passwords the same.

Log on to a fake website designed to look like Facebook and your email can be hijacked. If you keep personal and financial information there, you could have more problems.

People utilize their emails accounts, people store a majority of their information on their email accounts, said Muller.

If your free email account is hacked, getting it back, is tough.

The reason it's hard is because there's a lot of people, it's a free account, they're making money of the ads, said Muller.

Broad had to deal with this for five days, until a friend at Google helped him out.

But a new feature at Gmail allows you to reclaim your account with a text message. For more information on that, click here.

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