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Personal details of 47,000 Brent residents for sale on the dark web

PUBLISHED: 10:44 26 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:00 26 August 2014

Darren Innes, CEO of Has My Identity Been Stolen, has urged people to check if their data is exposed. Picture: Polly Hancock

Darren Innes, CEO of Has My Identity Been Stolen, has urged people to check if their data is exposed. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

The personal information of more than 47,000 people living in Brent has been put up for sale on the dark web, according to new data revealing the startling scale of online identity fraud.

Postcode breakdown

HA9 - 8,447

NW2 - 9,074

NW6 - 7,383

NW9 - 8,461

NW10 - 14,130

The figures, compiled by a risk intelligence company, have shown criminal trade in stolen personal data is booming, fuelled by the anonymity of the hidden web.

Gangs from across the world are using websites to trade sensitive information and tens of thousands of residents have fallen victim to the practice.

Stolen emails, passwords, addresses, bank account numbers, passport numbers and dates of birth are put up for sale on the so-called dark web – sections of the internet that cannot be found using search engines – allowing criminals to use the data to buy goods or set up false identities.

C6 Intelligence, which works with leading financial and retail companies, has penetrated more than 50 criminal websites and has 421million records globally of stolen data over the last five years.

What is the dark web?

The dark web, also known as the deep net, invisible web, or hidden web, consists of encrypted sites that cannot be seen or retrieved by standard search engines such as Google.

Often, they are accessible only if you use special browser software that helps to peel away the onion-like layers of encryption in which users can bury data.

The deep web is believed to be several times larger than the surface web.

The company has broken down the records by London postcode for the Times.

Chief executive officer Darren Innes, 48, said: “That is 47,000 individuals that have had some or all of their data up for sale in the last few years on the dark web. And the sole purpose of that data being up for sale is to commit a criminal fraudulent act.”

C6 has now set up a subsidiary website called Has My Identity Been Stolen, co-founded with two former fraud squad officers, that allows members of the public to check if their personal data is within its 421million records.

In the last two months C6 has seen the number of compromised identities increase daily by 5,000 per cent – from an average of 13,000 to about 658,000 a day.

The criminal trade is described as “incredibly well organised and really big business” with gangs working to targets to steal 500 iPads a day from online shopping sites.

Mr Innes warned that young professionals are the “nirvana” for identity fraudsters because they live in communal flats where post can be easily diverted and their credit history is not completely formed.

Children’s data is also targeted as criminal organisations take a “long term view” on building identity profiles to use when the child becomes an adult.

Anyone can check if their data has been stolen free of charge by typing their email address into the website. A secure email will then be sent confirming if your data is among the records.

“The earlier you’re aware that some of your data is exposed, even if it’s just your email password, if you can change that then it avoids hassle later on,” said Mr Innes. “The very nature of that reduces the fraud exposure. It’s educating people to the risk.”

To find out more visit hasmyidentitybeenstolen.com.


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