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Pensioners’ private data sells on Facebook for 16p

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 11/07/2022 Jessica Beard
mark zuckerberg © Provided by The Telegraph mark zuckerberg

Sensitive and private data of wealthy elderly people is for sale on Facebook to scammers for as little as 16p, an investigation has found. 

The personal details of tens of thousands of Britons are for sale online in open groups favoured by hackers and scammers, a BBC report has shown. 

Facebook has failed to stop the sale of thousands of people’s data by not cracking down on groups and posts made for the illegal trades, it found. 

Posts advertising data for sale such as “UK old age high income leads” have gone unnoticed by Facebook

Wealthy pensioners are particularly vulnerable to scammers, with many posts specifically describing the data sets of “rich people”, “high income”, “home owners” and “old age”. 

Fraudsters will buy the data, marketed as “leads”, then use it as the starting point for different types of scams. 

Criminals can use this as a ransom, to commit identity theft – such as impersonating a consumer to borrow money or buy goods in their name – or to auction off the data to other crooks via black markets. They can also use it to impersonate a bank through knowing a target’s employer, date of birth and address. 

The details of 1,000 people living in Britain were bought for just £160 by the BBC’s Morning Live team. This included their names, home addresses, email addresses, estimated net worth and an estimated income bracket. The programme contacted all those involved to notify them. 

Matt Allwright, of the BBC, said: “We were so shocked to learn that Facebook was allowing these types of sales to happen. We thought we were only buying 200 people’s data, but ended up with 1,000.” 

Anthony from Eastbourne, whose details had been bought, told the BBC he had been “inundated” with phone calls from certain companies, which called him up to three times a day. 

A spokesman for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said it doesn’t allow people to share confidential information about others on the platform. 

“This is part of our efforts to combat scams and fraud. We remove this content when we become aware of it and have taken down the groups in question,” he said.

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