Laptop repair fraudster jailed for nine months

A Polish laptop repair engineer who tried to hack in to an undercover reporter's bank account after stealing details from her computer has been jailed for nine months.

A Polish laptop repair engineer who tried to hack in to an undercover reporter's bank account after stealing details from her computer has been jailed for nine months.

Grzegorz Zachodni, 30, of Hammersmith, London pleaded guilty to fraud in the West London Magistrate's Court after he was caught in a sting operation.

Zachodni was working at Laptop Revival, a computer repair shop in King's Street, Hammersmith, when he was approached by the Sky News reporter.

The reporter was investigating the quality of service supplied by laptop repair shops. She took the laptop with a loose memory chip for repair at a number of shops.

The laptop used covert software to record all files looked at and all websites visited by the computer as well as images from the computer's webcam.

It also contained a large number of the reporter's personal photos, including images of her in her underwear and bikini, along with her log-in details to eBay, Facebook and NatWest online banking.

The reporter took the laptop to the shop on 4 March 2009. Later that day the shop phoned her to say the laptop needed a new motherboard and would cost £100 to repair. She declined and went to pick it up the next day.

At the shop she discovered the laptop had been repaired. She was allowed to take it away free of charge because she had not authorised the repair.

The spy software and webcam recordings later revealed that Zachodni had worked on the computer for 20 minutes. During that time he had looked at many of the reporter's photographs as well as files marked "private" that contain her log-in details.

The webcam recorded Zachodni taking an external USB drive from around his neck and saving these private files as well as two photographs of her in a bikini on it.

He tried six times to log in to the reporter's NatWest account using the details from the private files.

Sky News broadcast a news report of the investigation and then passed details of their enquiry to Metropolitan Police Service's economic and specialist crime unit.

Detectives arrested Zachodni on 21 October 2009 for computer misuse and on suspicion of attempted fraud by misrepresentation. Zachodni pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation in July and was sentenced today (6 August 2010).

Investigating officer DC Chris Young said, "Hopefully this conviction will be a warning to the computer repair industry that the copying or use of customers' private and personal information is not acceptable."

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