Email Correspondence and Identity Theft

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Email and Identity Theft

The email, that blessing and curse of modern life, has given rise in recent years to a particularly nasty crime which is a variation of identity theft.

What happens is that an unscrupulous individual hacks into a person’s or company’s email account and intercepts correspondence in which directions are given for the transfer of money, usually being payment for the purchase of goods.

Thr hacker masquerades as the intended recipient of the money, and emails the payee that for some spurious reason payment should now be made to a different account. This is an account, usually in the name of a company and as often as not located in Hong Kong, that the hacker controls. The unsuspecting payee, unaware that his correspondence has been hacked and believing that the email has come from the intended recipient, then proceeds to make the payment to the new account provided. He then discovers that the rightful recipient and intended beneficiary knows nothing of this bank account, hasn’t received payment and so won’t release the goods. He has been the victim of identity theft.

The Legal Remedy To Identity Theft

In such circumstances, the first thing to do is to freeze the account into which the monies have been deposited. This can be done by application to court, with which we can assist you, or sometimes the police are willing to apply. However, the bank where the account is located will not release the money from the account without a court order.

Obtaining The Court Order

How should the innocent payee and identity theft victim obtain the Court order? Firstly, he or she should commence proceedings against the holder of the false account. The proceedings can be served on the company at its registered address. It is very unlikely that the proceedings will be defended for the obvious reasons that there is no defence, and the hacker does not want to come forward and identify himself. So usually it is possible to obtain a default judgement after the period allowed for the Defendant to enter an appearance has expired.

The next step will be to apply to Court for a charging order on the false account, in effect an order that the judgement debt be payed out of the monies remaining in the false account. Once that is achieved the charging order should be served on the bank. The bank cannot ignore the charging order and will pay the amount charged, or so much as remains in the account, to the innocent payee.

Needless to say, for the innocent payee who has experienced identity theft, this is a nerve-racking process, but provided he and the police have acted in time he will get some if not all of his money back.