Social Engineering Hits Brit Bank Head, Victim of Fraud

It must have just ruined his "holiday" or vacation when Andy Hornby, the head of British bank HBOS got the call from his own fraud investigators last week that his personal bank account had been breached.

The HBOS plc Group, which encompasses The Halifax and Bank of Scotland, is the UK's largest mortgage and savings provider. It employs 72,000.

Hornby's staff told him that his identity had been stolen, and the thief, posing as Hornby, stole at least £7,000 in one day. A British news report says the thief was believed to have obtained one of Hornby's old bank statements and subsequently used it to pose as Hornby, who makes more than £1 million a year as head of Britain's fourth largest bank. Hornby joined The Halifax as chief executive in 1999 and shot to British banking's elite status after he became head of HBOS after it merged banks in 2006 and HBOS's stock rocketed skyward.

A source quoted in the news report said: "It is understood he [the criminal] was caught on CCTV withdrawing cash from at least one branch and a cashpoint. They think the thief is from a Nigerian background. He certainly looks nothing like Andy. It appears he used one of Andy's statements as proof of name and address in a branch. He also phoned a call centre to open an account with the details, but it still didn't click, and he took cash from a hole-in-the-wall. It's hugely embarrassing for the head of a banking group to be so lax with personal information that someone can steal his identity. After all, banks are constantly warning customers to guard their private details."

HBOS didn't have comment on the theft.

One consolation for Andy is he's not the first British banking head to be scammed in this way earlier in January a similar con went down when a conman got £10,000 from Barclays after convincing call center staff to send him a credit card, in the name of Barclay's £750,000 chairman Marcus Agius.

About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.

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