Only very recently, in
February this year, two identity fraudsters got confidential
information about comedian Harry Hill, 41, from a bank clerk and
used it to set up an internet account in his name. They then
siphoned cash from the comedian's genuine Halifax accounts into
the bogus one. In one month a series of large sums were
transferred out of the online account to various beneficiaries
and stolen. Hill, whose account was in his real name of Dr
Matthew Hall, discovered the theft when he visited his Halifax
branch in Battersea, South London, to query the transactions.
The stand-up comic was one of five wealthy clients targeted. The
unnamed conmen got their confidential details from Sharmane
Dillon, 23, a Halifax customer adviser. Dillon claimed the men,
who were not caught, threatened her with violence. They sent her
the names of chosen victims by text message and she searched the
computer database for dates of births and answers to security
Prosecutor Andrew Evans told
Harrow crown court that one conman then posed as Hill to alter
the bank's records of his address. He said: "It was changed
to somewhere in Woolwich. A code was then issued to that address
which enabled fraudulent transactions." Almost £500,000
was taken from the customers. About £150,000 was recovered. The
bank refunded the rest.
Dillon, who worked in Wembley,
admitted passing on customer details but denied plotting fraud.
She denied the charge of conspiracy to defraud saying she did
not profit from the crime, and only took part because the conmen
had threatened to hurt her family and slit her throat if she did
However a jury at Harrow
Crown Court found the 23-year-old guilty by a majority verdict.
The fraudsters themselves were not caught. Judge Susan Tapping
told her: ‘It would be very wrong if I didn't warn you that a
custodial sentence is very much on the cards for this
offence.’ Four other accounts were targeted in the sting,
which netted more than £578,000 in 2004; although all the
victims have got their money back. She was released on bail and
will be sentenced next month. Last year another comedian, Ricky
Gervais, was also a victim of identity fraud when a picture
taken from the cover of a DVD was used in a stolen passport.
So where does this leave you?
If you can’t even trust the staff at your bank it doesn’t
leave too much hope. MPs recently voted to bring in voluntary ID
cards. Presumably criminals will choose to opt out given the
choice. But apart from biometric ID cards what can you do to
protect your identity? If you are not rich or famous, and thus
specifically targeted as Ricky Gervais and Harry Hill were, you
should stand a better chance of protecting yourself by, at the
very least, investing in a decent shredder, of at least security
level 3 or 4, and shred every bit of correspondence that you
throw in your dustbin, absolutely everything and anything that
has confidential information on it, even if it is only your name
AB Technology (London) Ltd
supply the widest range of paper shredders from no less than 9
major manufacturers including desktop CD shredders. By shredding
often and shredding well, you will go a long way to protecting
yourself against opportunistic identity thieves who might be
looking to raid your dustbin for useful personal details.
Vincent Woodall is the sales
and marketing manager for AB Technology (London) Ltd. ABT supply
paper, CD and Multimedia and cardboard shredders, well over 300
models from 9 major manufacturers. They offer the widest choice
of quality shredders available from one supplier in the UK.
Source: Identity theft. Credit fraud. Medical fraud. TrustedID offers a $1,000,000 warranty to keep you safe. Try it free.
Paper Shredders at Amazon.com
- make sure you buy a
criss cross shredder so no one will be able to paste your
information back together