An English man has been been found guilty of siphoning money out of bank accounts after using social networks to guess the security questions for the account owners’ online banking services, reports The Telegraph.
33-year-old Iain Wood targeted his friends and neighbors living in his apartment block on City Road in Newcastle’s East End, since he could intercept their mail. He would befriend his targets online, on Facebook and Friends Reunited, and would try to use the information he found out as passwords for accessing their bank accounts.
When he couldn’t manage to guess the password, he would click on the “I forgot my password” link and be faced with security questions such as date of birth and mother’s maiden name, which he would then proceed to answer using the knowledge he accumulated from these people’s social networking accounts.
Not all the bank accounts he accessed were active, but on those that were, he would change the address details, intercept the cards coming in by mail and use them to take out cash. On the inactive accounts, he would exploit the overdraft option.
All in all, he managed to get his hands on over £35,000 during a period of two years, which he would use to gamble. His scheme was discovered only after he changed his operating method and transferred money from a targeted account directly to his own.
Once the victim was alerted of the withdrawal of the money and notified the police, they knew exactly on which door to knock. A search of his apartment revealed that this fraud attempt was only the latest in a long string of successful hits, as the police found PIN numbers, a passport belonging to someone else and a stack of mail stolen from his neighbors’ post boxes.
Wood was sentenced to 15 months in jail.