How this teenager stole £66,000 by hacking victims' phones

A teenage phone hacker stole £66k from a woman and five companies using PayPal.

Connor Turner, 18, of Finborough Road in Walton, stole £66,551 from September 2020 to May 2022 by fraudulently gaining access to the phones and accounts of a woman and five companies. He first contacted Virgin Media in September 2020 pretending to be the account holder of a phone that belonged to someone else.

Turner fraudulently obtained the code given to customers when they want to change their service provider but keep their telephone number. With this code, he transferred the victim’s mobile number to a phone under his control.

Turner was then able to bypass the two-factor authorisation system which has become industry standard when changing passwords on banking or other computer systems. He then accessed the victim’s bank accounts and transferred around £4,500 to an account held by a relative.

He tried to then transfer this money to his own account but was stopped by staff at Santander bank who became suspicious. Undeterred, Turner then accessed his victim’s PayPal account and obtained around £5,000.

He used the same system to get a code to gain control of the phone of a man who sold mobile phones on online markets such as eBay. Turner gained access to his PayPal account and transferred £3,800 to his own account.

He then gained access to the computer systems of a company that makes and sells computer games. Turner gained access to their Paypal account and transferred around £10,000.

He did the same to a company providing telephony services, obtaining £12,853 from their Paypal account. He then carried out the same fraud at two other online companies.

Turner was eventually traced and arrested at his home and interviewed. He was charged with 40 offences, including fraud, theft and securing unauthorised access to computer material.

At a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court on March 22, 2023, he pleaded guilty to 30 of the offences and not guilty to ten. These charges will lie on file. On September 21 at Liverpool Crown Court, Turner was given a 12 month jail term, suspended for a year.

He has also been made the subject of an electronic curfew and he cannot leave his home between the hours of 7pm and 7am for three months.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Elizabeth Pearson, of CPS Mersey Cheshire, said: “Connor Turner is a computer hacker proficient in what is known as "Social-Engineering". He researches companies and individuals and then uses the information to impersonate them and gain access to their financial accounts.

“Once he gains access to those accounts, he steals money to which he has no right, withdrawing them down to bank accounts that only he owns and controls, for his own benefit. As time went on he got more and more greedy, stealing more money with each victim.

"He claimed he came under pressure from other people to begin his fraudulent activity but there is no evidence of this. He is just a teenager yet is already a convicted criminal.

"Online crime is no different from any other crime, the perpetrators will be found and brought to justice.”