33-year-old Iain Wood, a man in northeast England that owned a carpet fitting business, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for stealing $57,000 over two years from friends and neighbors. Wood’s scam involved befriending people in the vicinity of his home and becoming friends with neighbors on Facebook as well as another social network Friends United. With information collected off the Facebook pages, Wood would make online attempts to access a neighbor’s bank account. Wood would bypass the password and go straight for the security question. Since most security questions involve a bit of personal information like a mother’s maiden name or a date of birth, Wood could gain access to bank accounts easily with the knowledge gained from the social networks.
After gaining access, Wood would change the address of the victim and withdraw cash with the new cards that he would intercept in the mail. Banks rarely verify the change-of-address request, thus Wood stole thousands of dollars between June 2008 and June 2010 for gambling purposes. Wood would spend up to 18 hours a day on the computer attempting to access different accounts as well as collecting information. Wood even exploited dormant bank accounts by taking advantage of overdraft fees.
He was caught after attempting to directly transfer about $2,500 from a victim’s account into his own account around November 2009. After the initial arrest, police had no idea that Wood stole money from many other accounts until Wood asked “Have you been on to me for a while?”. Police searched his home and found plenty of incriminating evidence including other people’s bills, bank account pin numbers, passports and other paperwork related to personal finances. Wood plead guilty to all counts of false representation and was sentenced to 15 months at Newcastle Crown Court.