An employee of RAC has been sentenced in crown court to eight months imprisonment for stealing personal customer information and selling it on to an accident claims management company.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) investigated after they were alerted to a possible data breach following a spate of nuisance calls to an individual who had been involved in road traffic accidents. The offense first came to light when a fleet management company were alerted by one of its customers to being repeatedly called about an accident, they had been involved in. The fleet company brought this to the attention of the RAC who then conducted a data leakage scan of its internal email system and discovered one if its own employees had been compiling lists of data.

The ICO then got involved and discovered the employee had sold this data to an accident claims company who had then used it to make nuisance telephone calls. The defendant pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to 8 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay back £15,000 within 3 months or face more time behind bars. The individual behind the company which purchased the data were also sentenced to 100 hours community service and ordered to pay back £25,000, both individuals will face time behind bars if these figures are not paid back within three months under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Mike Shaw, who heads up the Criminal Investigations Team at the ICO said:

“Those who believe that this is a victimless crime without consequences, need to think again. These criminal acts have a detrimental impact on the public and businesses. People’s data is being accessed without consent and businesses are putting resources into tracking down criminals. Once the data is in the hands of claims management companies, people are subjected to unwanted calls which can in turn lead to fraudulent personal injury claims.

“Offenders must know that we will use all the tools at our disposal to protect people’s information and prevent it from being used to make nuisance calls.

“This case shows that we can, and will take action, and that could lead to a prison sentence for those responsible. Where appropriate we will work with partner agencies to make full use of the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure that criminals do not benefit financially from their criminal behaviour.”

How does Proceeds of Crime Act Work?

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 or (POCA) often can mean a convicted person faces harsher punishment then the original crime they were sentenced for. If you are convicted of a criminal offence and the prosecution believe you benefited financially through this then they can begin proceedings against you to recover any money made due to this crime. Any asset that you acquired during the six years prior to the start of proceedings is open to confiscation. The court can assume what assets were obtained during this period using the proceeds of crime. This can include property, vehicles, equipment, and business assets. If an individual fails to pay the amount set by the court, they will be ordered to face jailtime and the confiscation order lasts a lifetime, meaning if you acquire assets in the future, even legitimately, they can still be confiscated from in until the debt is paid.

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