A former claims farmer has been prosecuted for posing as a law firm on numerous occasions in order to illegally obtain personal data from insurance companies.
Joseph Walker appeared at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to 12 offences of unlawfully obtaining personal data under s55 of the Data Protection Act. A further 44 similar matters were taken into consideration.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that the case concerned what are known as blagging calls, which were made to insurance companies to illegally obtain information about policy holders and road traffic accidents they had been involved in.
At the time of the offences, Walker worked as a manager at a claims management company, UK Claims Organisation, which was based in Liverpool.
Data originally obtained unlawfully from a car hire company was used by the employees of UK Claims Organisation as leads to make calls. Staff then used the information they illegally obtained from insurers in order to be able to sell cases on to solicitors as personal injury claims.
Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, said: “Blagging calls are one of the many disreputable and dishonest tactics we see being used by rogue firms. People’s personal data has real monetary value and this practice shows the lengths some people and organisations will go to in order to get hold of it.”
Walker’s co-defendants, former UK Claims Organisation employees Lesley Severs and Kayleigh Billington, were fined in November 2016 for their involvement, acting on the instruction of their manager.
Walker, 30 – who is originally from Liverpool but now resides in Australia – failed to attend that hearing and was arrested on a warrant during a visit back to the UK.
He was fined £2,000 and was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,600 and a victim surcharge of £15.
Denham added: “We are happy the court has recognised the seriousness of the offence by imposing a fine.”