Computer error exposes teenager's eBay fraud

An Australian schoolboy, who had managed to get away with thousands of dollars in fraud, was caught only after $2m was deposited by mistake into one of his fake accounts at the end of 2009.

Philip Heggie, just 17 at the time, could not resist the temptation to withdraw $5,000 of his unexpected windfall as soon as he could, but in so doing, aroused the suspicion of a bank worker who called in the police to investigate.

Police found several incriminating items, including Heggie’s fake IDs and the signature block of a justice of the peace used to forge documents, reports said.

Heggie has pleaded guilty to more than 100 charges in the Brisbane District Court relating to fraud committed from December 2008 to December 2009 using fake eBay accounts and 119 fake bank accounts.

The court heard 99 customers paid Heggie for mobile phones and electronics they never received and PayPal was defrauded of $39,104.

Downtime notes that if it had not been for the chance $2m deposit and Heggie’s greed, he would never have been brought to book.

As great as online commerce is, this case points to a glaring need for greater controls to detect and prevent fraud.

Heggie may have been let down by his greed, but he has youth on his side, and even though he has been sentenced to three years’ jail, he will be eligible for parole within a week.

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