Camden council worker made list of 277 vulnerable pensioners for fraudsters
Social services records used to make list of targets whose bank accounts were drained
01 December, 2017 — By William McLennan
Man stole details of victims using computers at the council’s HQ
A TOWN Hall employee trawled through sensitive council records to make a list of 277 elderly residents which was passed to fraudsters who then tricked the pensioners out of thousands of pounds.
Charlie Heath admitted using his position to access the names and addresses of pensioners, but told Blackfriars Crown Court on Tuesday that he was acting on the orders of a criminal gang who had threatened him and his family.
The 23-year-old denied all fraud charges and said that, moments after printing off the list on May 23 last year, he had a crisis of conscience and threw it in a confidential waste bin at the council’s King’s Cross HQ. A jury rejected his claims and yesterday (Thursday) found him guilty.
The court heard that the list was discovered by police on June 1 in what was described as a “fraudster’s kit”, alongside the passport, bank cards and bank statements of a 79-year-old woman who had been conned earlier that day.
Mr Heath, who no longer works for Camden Council, told the jury that, after months of intimidating phone calls, he began to compile the list in March when the threats escalated.
He said: “They started to approach me outside of my work. They said they knew where my sister had worked. “I couldn’t leave my house. Every time I did people would follow me. I was scared to leave my house.”
He said he did not report it to authorities because he had “lost all faith” in police after they failed to prosecute a man who stabbed him in November 2015.
Mr Heath told the jury that he decided to give in to the gang’s demands after they attempted to break into his King’s Cross home on May 20 last year.
He said: “I couldn’t see my family hurt like that. On the Monday I went to work as normal and printed off these names. I then just left them and put them in the confidential waste bin.”
Asked about his last-minute change of heart, he said: “As soon as it left the printer I thought about the repercussions and I put it in the confidential waste bin.
“I was scared of the repercussions of what these people could do to these elderly people. I would rather get a kicking than someone else get hurt because of myself. I felt disgusted about it. At the last hurdle I decided it was wrong and threw it away.”
He added: “I have no idea how a list of names got from the confidential waste bin into someone else’s hands.”
The court heard that nine days later police officers travelling with sirens on through Forest Gate noticed a group of men running from a parked car. They pursued the men, arresting 20- year-old Shaheedul Abedin at the scene.
After carrying out a search, they found a brown envelope, discarded under a car, which contained the list of names and the passport, bank cards and statements of a pensioner who had been conned earlier that day by a man posing as a policemen investigating fraud.
She was also tricked into handing over £200 in cash. Everyone on the list was aged 78 or 79, the court heard.
Officers forensically analysed the list and found the fingerprints of Mr Heath’s neighbour, 22-year-old Sayim Ahmed, who was cleared of any involvement in fraud by the jury.
They also found prints belonging to Mr Abedin, of Tower Hamlets, and 20-year-old Kawsar Ahmed, of Lewisham. They were both found guilty of being in possession of an article for use in fraud. They denied the charges, but declined to give evidence to the court.
The court heard that Mr Heath worked as a data “archiver” assigned to the children’s social services department and had “no reason to access adult records”.
But when the list was discovered, a review of computer systems showed he had been able to access thousands of vulnerable adults’ details over a period of two months.
He will be sentenced later this month.