Monday, 9 August 2010

Hammersmith computer criminal gets 9 months courtesy of Sky News

A Laptop repair engineer who tried to hack in to an undercover reporter's bank account after stealing details from her computer was today (6 August) sentenced to nine months in prison.
Grzegorz Zachodni, 29 (dob 14/7/81) a Polish national, of Brading Terrace, Hammersmith, pleaded guilty to fraud on 7 July at West London Magistrate's Court after being caught in a sting operation by a Sky News journalist.

The court heard how Zachodni was working at Laptop Revival, a computer repair shop in King's Street, Hammersmith, when he was approached by the reporter.The reporter was investigating the quality of service supplied by laptop repair shops. The method was to take a laptop with a minor fault to be repaired at a number of shops. The fault was a loose memory chip; a simple fault to fix.

The laptop had covert software installed on it which recorded all files looked at and all websites visited by the computer as well as images from the computer's webcam. A large number of personal photos of the reporter were placed on the laptop, including images of her in her underwear and bikini, along with log in details to eBay, Facebook and NatWest online banking.

The reporter took the laptop to the shop on 4 March 2009. Later the same day she was telephoned by the shop and told that the computer needed a new motherboard and would cost £100 to repair. She declined to have the computer fixed and went to pick it up the next day.

On her return to the shop she discovered the computer had been repaired. She was allowed to take the computer away free of charge because she had not authorised the repair. Interrogation of the computer spy software and webcam recordings revealed that Zachodni had worked on the computer for 20 minutes. During that time he had looked at a large number of the victim's photographs as well as files marked "private" containing her log in details for Facebook, eBay and NatWest online banking.Zachodni was recorded on the webcam removing an external USB drive from around his neck and using it to save private files containing the reporter's passwords and log in details as well as two photographs of her in a bikini.

He then made six attempts to log in to the reporter's online banking account using the details from the private files on the laptop. Sky News broadcast a news report of their investigation and then passed details of their enquiry to Metropolitan Police Service's Economic and Specialist Crime Unit. Detectives visited Laptop Revival on 21 October 2009 where they arrested Zachodni for computer misuse and on suspicion of attempted fraud by misrepresentation.

On the 7 July 2010 Zachodni pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation contrary to Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006. Investigating officer DC Chris Young said: "Hopefully this conviction will be a warning to the computer repair industry that the copying or use of customers' private and personal information is not acceptable and the Metropolitan Police Economic and Specialist Crime Directorate will endeavour to prosecute any person found to have committed offences regarding these abuses."

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