A Newcastle man received a 15-month jail sentence after he admitted stealing money from bank accounts whose passwords he guessed using information shared on Facebook.
According to The Telegraph, Iain Wood, 33, spent up to 18 hours per day online trying to figure out passwords to other people's accounts.
Wood targeted people he was most likely to find information about, like his friends or neighbours.
During the course of two years, between June 2008 and June 2010, Wood befriended people on Facebook and used the information they shared to reset the passwords to their bank and other accounts.
The information provided him with the answers to security questions and allowed him to identity verification checks over the phone. He also tried to figure out people's access codes directly.
To determine with which banks his targets did business, Wood intercepted their post mail. When police searched his flat they found bills and paperwork he stole from mailboxes.
In fact, when they came knocking at his door, police officers were investigating the fraudulent transfer of £1,500 from a victim's account to his own, but then Wood asked them if they were on to him for a while and they realized the fraud was probably more extensive.
The fraudster admitted to stealing over £35,000 from the accounts of various people, money that he mostly gambled away. He was caught when he slipped and transferred stolen money directly into his own account.
"Remember to be extremely careful about what information you share about yourself on the net. It could be a useful piece of the jigsaw for an identity thief or online fraudster. Get out of the habit of thinking that you need to answer every question on every online form truthfully," advises Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.