With constant concern about data loss and data theft, the question of “Who buys stolen data?” needs to be asked.
So, Who buys Stolen Data?
A lot of the market for personal data theft is in the “gray/black” market.
Some companies specialize in the selling of personal information, anything from just the name and address (phone book/electoral role), upto bank details, phone records etc. The reported costs of this data vary from $100 to $500. These companies who sell the data to lawyers, businesses, etc may not “acquire” the information themselves, rather sub contract it out, keeping the “dirty end” of the business very much at arms length.
This means that the person who bought the data, apparently legitimately, is removed by at least two steps from the actual “data theft”.
One such example involves Mischon de Reya, a famous UK law firm and Carratou an investigation agency were involved in the purchasing of stolen information.
In this case Mischon wanted find information about Mr Hughes, the former chairman of the now collapsed Allsports. Based on this Mischon instructed Carratou to track down Mr Hughes. Carratou then instructed Sharon and Stephen Anderson, who are indepedant contractors. Sharon and Stephen then sourced a vareity of information about Mr Hughes, including details of his 11 of his bank accounts. They charged around £150 for each piece of financial data. They gained access to this information this through phone calls (impersonating Mr Hughes), false letters, etc, etc.
Once they had, in effect, “stolen his identify” and got the relevant information, this information was then passed from the Andersons to Carratou then from Carratou to Mischon and then to Mischon’s client. The whole incident only came to light when Mr Hughes took Carratou to court to find out how they had accessed his bank accounts.
It has since been revealed that Sharon and Stephen Anderson made around £140,000 a year doing this, which equates to nearly 4 pieces of financial information every work day. This means that they are supplying a lot of data to a lot of companies.
Other cases of people obtaining and selling data:
So, who buys data?
The Media (who are always reporting on the data theft), lawyers (who are there to protect the public), and business (who are the victims of hackers and data theft).
Who suffers most? The public.