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UK Hacker Jailed For Stealing Eight Million Personal Details

Edward Pearson, a hacker from York, has been jailed for the theft of personal details of some 8 million UK citizens, including in some cases credit card numbers.

Along with 2,700 bank cards, the 23-year-old hacker also bagged a massive collection of around 200,000 PayPal account details, which he plundered using a Python Script. He also employed Zeus and SpyEye Trojans in a year and a half long data stealing spree.

Pearson could have profited hugely from his nefarious activities if he'd tried to exploit the credit card and PayPal details to their full fraudulent potential. However, this wasn't Pearson's goal it seems, and they were only actually used to defraud to the tune of £2,300. Apparently he carried out the cyber-crimes as an intellectual challenge, rather than primarily an exercise in theft.

Therefore, given the scope of the data breaches, the judge was relatively lenient when it came to sentencing, jailing the man for 26 months.

His girlfriend, Cassandra Mennim, used stolen credit cards to book hotel rooms, and those bookings gave the police the lead they needed to trace Pearson. For her part in the affair, Mennim received a 12 month supervision order.

The judge stated: "This was a very sophisticated crime, in which you managed to access highly confidential information and put many many individuals at risk of attack."

"You had a staggering amount of personal details, 8.1 million, which included names, dates of births, credit and debit card details and security codes, what they could have been used for, is hard to imagine."

"I accept that you didn't sell this information, but you shared it with other computer programmers, and you had no way of knowing how they might use this information."

She concluded: "This stupendous criminality was not about financial gain, but about an intellectual challenge."

Source: Daily Mail (opens in new tab)

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.