Computer with tax payer personal details sold on eBay

UK police make an arrest

Leicestershire police have made an arrest over the sale on eBay of a computer that contained the personal details of thousands of council tax payers.

A criminal investigation started after the names and addresses, bank account numbers and sort codes of people in the Charnwood Borough Council region of Leicestershire reportedly turned up on a hard drive of a computer sold on eBay.

According to the Daily Mail, the computer was sold on eBay to a Scottish computer expert for just £6.99 (US$14). The expert then used data recovery equipment to discover around 35,000 files, including council tax bills, photographs of council staff and internal memos.

News of the security breach emerged a day after it was disclosed that a computer storing information on up to one million bank customers was sold on eBay for £35.

The council issued a statement stating it had found and is currently retrieving the hard drive. A Charnwood Borough Council spokesperson said the local authority had "acted swiftly" to contain the situation within almost 24 hours.

"The purchaser is cooperating with Charnwood and has stated that the data has not been distributed to any other parties."

A spokesperson from Leicestershire Constabulary confirmed that an arrest has been made. The police nor the council could not be drawn for further comment on the investigation.

According to the Daily Mail, the hard drive also included conversations about householders' divorces and family bereavements.

Council leader Richard Shepherd said: "I regret the concern caused to Charnwood residents by this serious matter. We have worked vigorously to investigate the case. I am pleased that we have quickly been able to identify and track down the hard drive and deal with the situation appropriately.

"We will give every assistance to the police in their further investigations and I will personally ensure a thorough review is also completed by the council to find out how this happened."

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Siobhan Chapman

Computerworld UK
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