Brits' identities sold for £1

Thousands of home addresses, credit card numbers and online passwords belonging to Britons are being sold on Russian websites for under a £1.

An investigation by The Sunday Times blames Trojan horse software for extracting data from computers, so it can be uploaded for sale to document forgers or identity thieves.

Its probe into the Russian-owned site exposed 13 British identities for sales, further to “tens of thousands” more available via virtual shopping arcades.

The list of victims included IT workers, who despite taking preventative steps with their data, had their e-mail, subscription service and account details filtered to third parties.

They featured alongside customers of HSBC, Lloyds TSB, NatWest and Barclays, with some reporting that their bank accounts had been hijacked, often for small amounts, in the past fortnight.

“I am amazed someone could have got access to these details,” said Max Haffenden, an IT worker from Sussex.

“I have a good idea of how computers work and how to be as secure as possible. I only trust a site with my details if it has a ‘padlock’ to show it has a secure server.”

Haffenden’s computer reportedly had a firewall and anti-virus installed when one year ago it detected a Trojan horse that the software failed to completely remove.

Nick Riches, another IT worker, said a Russian website was displaying his Hotmail account details, his home address and the information on his NatWest card. He was unaware of any malicious activity.

Another victim grew suspicious her PC had been attacked after it experienced problems before finally grinding to a halt, following a purchase she made on eBay.

The full scale of the crime is not yet known, but the probe exposed a list detailing the personal information of 30 individuals, 13 of which were British.

Posing as a buyer of fake IDs, the paper’s reporter was told se could obtain the data on British citizens ranging in price from $2 to $5 per person.

British and Russian authorities have launched investigations into the theft of the data.


4th September 2006

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