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UK bank chief stung in ID theft scam

HBOS boss conned

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Updated Identity fraudsters have claimed the prize scalp of the chief exec of HBOS bank.

Accounts belonging to Andy Hornby, 41, who earns an estimated £1m a year, were frozen after unauthorised withdrawals of at least £7,000 from his accounts. UK tabloid The Sun reports that crooks used an old bank statement from Hornby to pose as the bank chief.

Hornby, who took over as chief exec of HBOS in 2006, was reportedly told of the breach while he was on holiday. The exact mechanism of the audacious scam is unclear, but it seems that a fraudster succeeded in persuading HBOS to issue replacement cards or other account credentials.

A suspected crook has been captured on CCTV withdrawing money from a HBOS branch and a cashpoint machine, The Sun reports.

HBOS declined to discuss the alleged fraud, which raises questions about its internal systems as well as the care its chief exec takes with his own banking details.

The breach is hugely embarrassing, but not unprecedented. In January a thief defrauded Barclays of £10,000, having tricked staff into handing out a credit card while posing as its chairman Marcus Agius.

Last year HBOS and Barclays were among 11 UK banks warned by the Information Commissioners Office to stop the then widespread practice of dumping documents related to customer accounts in bins outside their stores. Each of the banks signed undertakings to discontinue the behaviour.

The ICO later audited HBOS after it emerged it may have been in breach of its promise to clean up its act. The follow-up action was triggered after BBC Watchdog discovered torn up bank statements that revealed customer names and account numbers and a untorn cheque for nearly £1,700 in a bin outside a HBOS branch weeks after the ICO's initial warning. ®

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