A man out of Northeast England has been sentenced to 15 months in prison after he hacked his neighbors’ bank accounts using information they posted on Facebook and Friends Reunited, a U.K.-based social networking site.
According to The Telegraph, Iain Wood spent up to 18 hours per day using the personal information his acquaintances posted online to work out passwords for their bank accounts.
He used the personal details to get past security checks and steal more than 35,000 British pounds ($57,000) over two years, which he blew on gambling.
Wood typed the usernames of his neighbors on bank websites. After indicating that he couldn’t remember the account password, he was asked security questions about date of births, mother’s maiden names, and other personal information and was able to answer them correctly in some cases, using information retrieved from Facebook.
If he got into the bank account, he changed the address details and took out cash.
Most of the accounts he targeted were dormant, but he was able to exploit the overdraft limit before anyone noticed.
He was caught when he changed his operation and tried to transfer money out of one neighbor’s account into his own accounts; the real accountholder was contacted about Wood’s withdrawal of 1,500 British pounds, realized it was fraud and the police were called.
Police suspected this was Wood’s only victim until he blurted out, “Have you been on to me for a while?”
A search of his place found bank account pin numbers, someone else’s passport, bills and other paperwork, much of which he took from his neighbors’ mailboxes, according to The Telegraph.
Wood pleaded guilty to seven counts of false representation and fraud.
Though Wood was a dedicated scammer, he didn’t use fake Facebook apps or malware-infested websites — only information readily available on people’s profile.
So, be careful what you click, whom you befriend and what you share on Facebook — make good use of the privacy settings. If you’re sharing personal details, don’t use that same information as the answers to security questions for important online services like banking.
Readers, are you surprised that one man with no software could do such damage?
Photo courtesy of The Telegraph.