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Bogus PI coughs to ID theft charges

Merlin hacker faces stiff sentence

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A US man who fraudulently accessed the details of thousands on a credit reference database pleaded guilty this week to ID theft-related charges. Brian Dill, 33, of Simi Valley, California, claimed to be a private investigator in order to access privileged information on the Merlin Information Services database.

As part of a plea bargaining deal, Dill admitted he conducted at least 1,873 queries through the Merlin system obtaining information on over 5,875 people. He used this data fraudulently obtain a credit card and make unauthorised purchases of more than $2,000 on his own behalf. Dill also used the information he gained from the Merlin system to supply friends and acquaintances with fraudulently obtained credit cards before he was collared by the Feds.

Dill, who pleaded guilty to computer hacking and fraud offences on Monday, faces a possible jail sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment. But he's likely to receive far less than the statutory maximum at a sentencing hearing before US District Judge Percy Anderson, scheduled for 25 September. ®

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