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Scottish teenager racks up £70,000 travel bill after password security lapse

A teenager was able to rack up a travel bill of £70,000 after a password security lapse left it simple for him to book flights around the world and live a jet-set lifestyle free of charge.

Reece Scobie, a former employee at Thomson-affiliated travel agency Cambridge Business Travel, was able to log onto the company system remotely for six months between July 2011 and January 2012 even though he had already left the company.

Scobie, 19, booked business class fights to a number of locations including Dubai, Singapore, Auckland, Los Angeles, Vancouver and New York, with top end hotels added to the bill as well.

He booked the packages under his own name using his own corporate passwords that hadn’t been revoked even though he’d left the company a number of months before. Scobie was also able to use the account of another person that worked for Cambridge Business Travel to book flights and this was all in addition to various aliases he utilised.

The fraudulent activity was only uncovered at the end of the frenetic six month period when Scobie was on another one of his freebie jaunts, this time to Los Angeles. When the firm found out, the return leg of his flight was cancelled and he had to borrow money to be able to fly home.

In all, the case cost Thomson Travel £11,256 and Cambridge Business Travel were out of pocket to the tune of £59,878.

He was eventually arrested earlier this year and Perth Sheriff Court ordered that he surrender his passport as part of the bail conditions. Though, surprisingly, when he returned to court on 18 April he managed to re-obtain his passport by claiming that he’d managed to land a new job in the travel industry and needed it.

Scobie plead guilty to the two charges of fraud levelled against him and sentencing has been deferred due to the court being told that Scobie suffers from Asperger’s syndrome with a psychiatric report imminent.

Image Credit: Flickr (marc falardeau)