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High-living hacker swaps Porsche for porridge

Youthful swine jailed for fraud

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A 21-year-old hacker was banged up yesterday for frauds netting him a Porsche, £40,000 in cash and £30,000 in gold bullion.

Alistair Peckover is serving 20 months after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud, and admitting 50 other offences which were taken into consideration.

Peckover targeted online betting sites, and also hacked individual email accounts. He exploited both BT and Google, and the companies have said they've fixed their holes.

Peckover both downloaded and wrote his own scripts to remotely view and control other individuals' computers. Sussex Police said he had been able to access the email account and the password of everyone that had bought an item using BT Openzone. Using this info Peckover checked which of them had Gmail and ended up with with access to 500 email accounts.

Peckover then filtered these with keywords including "sort code", "exp" or "amazon", and removed them from his victim's inbox without them knowing. Using "fake mail", he'd then continue corresponding with the original sender.

This got him credit cards, and he opened many bank accounts, and gaming accounts with Ladbrokes and Skybet, under his victims' identities.

This scam got him a haul of a Porsche, and £40,000 in cash (in Sterling and Euros) stuffed into two containers. Detectives also seized a Breitling watch, a Rolex watch, a Nintendo Wii console, a Pioneer car stereo, the bullion in small handsize bars and six computers from Peckover's home. Passports in three names that he had used were also found.

Detective Constable Des Hamilton, of the Sussex Police Major Fraud Unit, said: "This is a classic example of a self-taught obsessive loner with real computer skills but no concern for his impact on other people.

"Peckover used his skills to systematically defraud legitimate online businesses and unsuspecting members of the public. He was caught time and again but seemed completely uncaring about others. We hope that this sentence will help him use his obvious talents for more honest activity. Computer-based crime is not victimless.

"The message for genuine computer users is to routinely check the security you hold on your home computers. Importantly, do not download something unless you are certain that it is safe. This is how these hackers access your computer. Also, and as important, change the passwords you hold periodically, particularly on financial sites and email accounts."

Peckover hails from London Road, Hailsham. He was sentenced at Southend Crown Court in Essex. Four months of his sentence were in respect of breach of a previous suspended sentence. ®

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