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HMRC data loss was theft claims colourful ex-con and FBI fraud expert, Frank Abagnale

o The impact will last for years and the government needs to be specific about what it will do to protect people urges Abagnale
o HMRC blunder shows how the UK lags far behind the USA in data breach notification laws
o Data loss shows that a national scheme for ID cards is a bad idea

November 21, 2007 – The current position taken by the Government and reported extensively in the UK media is the loss of 25 million child benefit claimant records by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is simply an unfortunate blunder arising from sending computer discs in the post.  Not so reports Computerworld UK today further to an exclusive interview with Frank Abagnale, the colourful former ex-con, FBI fraud expert and author of Catch me if you can, who says he’s convinced it’s an inside job and straight forward theft given how easy it is to pick things up in post rooms. 

“It was not just a mistake.  I truly believe that someone paid for the information to be stolen.  It’s what happens all the time, that someone acted in collusion with somebody else to steal this data” says Abagnale. 

Governments, corporations and local authorities do a “horrible job of protecting data” he says. 

In the Computerworld UK interview, Abagnale

o Urges the UK government to provide a long term and stringent monitoring service to protect people given a thief would sit on the data for a number of years before harvesting identifies;
o Questions whether the government can be trusted with biometric data – an individual’s DNA- and considers the proposed UK ID scheme therefore to be untenable; 
o Says the UK lags far behind the USA in data protection notification laws since 10 days passed before the breach was announced - in America an immediate statement would have had to be made;
o Warns that no technology can be foolproof, saying “When people say their system is foolproof, they are underestimating the creativity of fools.”

To read the full and exclusive Computerworld UK article and other related stories on the HMRC crisis, visit

http://www.computerworlduk.com/management/government-law/public-sector/news/index.cfm?newsid=6299

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About Computerworld UK

The world’s most successful media brand aimed at IT managers, Computerworld was first launched in 1969 in the USA and has since earned itself a reputation for being sharply focused on reporting all the issues effecting IT managers.  Today, there are 57 editions of Computerworld globally serving a combined audience of 14 million IT professionals. 

Computerworld UK is published by IDG and edited by Mike Simons. 

About Frank Abagnale

Frank Abagnale is a former cheque con artist, forger and impostor who in the 1960s falsified and passed cheques worth $2.5 million in 26 countries using various fake identities.  Currently he runs Abagnale and Associates, a financial fraud consultancy.  His autobiography, Catch me if you can, was the inspiration and basis for the 2002 Steven Spielberg film starring Leonardo di Caprio and Tom Hanks.