Extract from blagger training manual
Agent Good afternoon. British Telecom Accounts Section. May I speak to
Agent Regarding the last bill relating to telephone number 081-123 4567, there is a possibility that your meter may have been faulty and overrunning. We’ve had complaints from quite a few people on the same side of the road as yours about abnormally high bills. Have you noticed that your last quarter bill
was abnormally higher than usual for a quarter?
Subject Yes, it was a bit high.
Agent Our engineers have notified us, from various meter tests, that you were
probably overcharged 537 units over and above that which you used. This
comes to a credit refund of 4.02p/unit x 537 units [tap it out on a calculator
next to the phone for the subject to hear]. this equals a total refund of £21.59.
We can credit your account on the next telephone bill next quarter or pay the
money directly into your account today by Direct transfer.
Which would you prefer?
[Most people go for the bank option as this ensures that they get the money
quicker. If the subject opts for the credit to the next BT bill, correct yourself and say “Oh, I’m terribly sorry but I’ve just realised that for amounts less than £30 our department policy is to credit your bank account or building society directly”.]Can I take your details please and I’ll get the transfer made this afternoon?
[Wait for the subject to respond before asking the next question as the subject
may give you all the info without needing to be asked.]
Your bank is.....? and the branch address? And the account number is?
Do you have any other banks or building societies we could use to transfer
the money to as [the first given bank] tends to take a bit longer to pay into
than some of the others?
[Then take details of any other banks and building societies in the same fashion.] You should get the credit through tomorrow or the day after. Thanks. Bye.
If you’re asked for your telephone number say “Freephone BT Account North London” [Replace London with the relevant town].
If you’re asked for your name just say ‘Mrs Adams, but anyone will be able to help you when you call our section as we are all computerised and on the same database screens.
The above is taken from ‘What Price Privacy – the Unlawful Trade in Confidential Personal’; the UK Information Commissioner’s report on Operation Motorman. The report [and the later report – What Price Privacy Now] described an investigation into a conspiracy to steal people's personal information. The information was stolen by organized gangs who employed information thieves called blaggers. One of these gangs even produced a blaggers manual to train their employees in the art of information theft. An extract from this manual is given above.
These gangs had a wide range of customers. Some UK national newspapers were eager buyers of the stolen information. So were insurance companies, who used the information in investigating claims. Lenders and creditors also bought information so that they could track down people who owed them money.
Besides conning information from people they gangs also made extensive use of corrupt civil servants and police officers. Using a combination of the techniques set out in the blaggers manual and corrupt officials the gangs could obtain pretty much any information they wanted on any individual. They could easily obtain information from government databases and telephone records. One of the lessons of Operation Motorman is that the more information the government holds on individuals the more those individuals personal information is vulnerable