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T-Mobile data thieves fined over £70,000

Two former T-Mobile employees have been fined over £70,000 for stealing hundreds of thousands of customer details and selling them to mobile phone contract data resellers.David Turley and Darren Hames pleaded guilty to stealing the details last year, and were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Friday.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

Two former T-Mobile employees have been fined over £70,000 for stealing hundreds of thousands of customer details and selling them to mobile phone contract data resellers.

David Turley and Darren Hames pleaded guilty to stealing the details last year, and were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Friday. Turley was ordered to pay £45,000 within six months, or serve an 18 month prison sentence. Hames was ordered to pay £28,700 confiscation costs within half a year, or face a 15 month prison sentence. Hames must also pay £500 towards prosecution costs.

"Today's hearing marks the final chapter in an investigation that has exposed the criminals behind a mass illegal trade in lucrative mobile phone contract information," Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said in a statement on Friday (PDF). "It also marks a new chapter of effective deterrents on data crime where the courts will act to recover the ill-gotten gains."

T-Mobile, which initially detected the data theft, criticised its former employees. "We take the protection of customer data extremely seriously," said the company in a statement on Friday. "We welcome the measures taken by the court and hope that this serves as a significant warning to those who seek to profit from unlawfully obtaining customer data."

Hames had access to the data as part of his job as sales manager for the West Midlands region, a T-Mobile spokesperson told ZDNet UK on Friday. T-Mobile has put measures in place to mitigate against data theft, the spokesperson added.

Hames sold the data to Turley, who was a former T-Mobile sales manager. Turley then sold the information on to data brokers.

The prosecution said that between the end of 2007 and December 2008, Hames stole the details of 556,355 T-Mobile customers from the company's database, according to a summary of the case (PDF). Hames sold batches of 20,000 to 30,000 records at a time, at least eight times in the 12 month period. Hames admitted that Turley paid around £30,000 for the data.

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