British PIs Who Tricked Organizations into Handing over Personal Data Sentenced


Private investigators ordered to pay fines for tricking organizations into handing over personal informationSix individuals who work for a British private investigations company have been sentenced. They tricked organizations into revealing their customers’ personal information.

According to the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), one of those sentenced is Adrian Stanton, 40, one of the owners of the private investigations firm called ICU Investigations Limited. He has been ordered to pay a fine of £7500 ($12,300 / €9,000) and £6107 ($10,000 / 7,300) for prosecution costs.

Stanton was convicted in November 2013. His partner, Barry Spencer, 41, was also convicted at the time. Spencer will be sentenced as a separate defendant on April 4, 2014.

Five employees of the company have also been sentenced. They’ve been ordered to pay fines of between £1000 ($1,650 / €1,200) and £4000 ($6,600 / €4,827), and between £1000 ($1,650 / €1,200) and £3000 ($5,000 / €3,600) for prosecution costs.

These employees are Robert Sparling, 38; Joel Jones, 43; Neil Sturton, 43; Michael Sparling, 41; and Lee Humphreys, 41. They were also convicted in November 2013.

ICU Investigations had been hired to trace various individuals, mainly for debt recovery purposes. In order to obtain information on their targets, the company tricked utility firms, TV Licensing and GP surgeries into handing over personal data.

In many cases, the investigators pretended to be the individuals they were tracing in order to convince the organizations to provide the information they needed. Between April 2009 and May 2010, they committed almost 2,000 offences.

“These men knew they were breaking the law, but did so anyway, presumably confident they would not be caught. That faith was misplaced, and they and their employees will now face the consequences of their actions,” ICO Criminal Investigations Team Manager Damian Moran said in November 2013, when the PIs were convicted.

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