It has emerged that the man who tried to sell the 650,000-strong hacked Paddy Power customer database was a legitimate list broker operating out of Canada, who claims to have purchased the data lawfully.
Jason Ferguson, chief executive of a company called Betenomics Media, has broken his silence about the planned deal in an interview with Bloomberg. Ferguson, who is not being prosecuted, maintains he purchased the data from a contact in Malta.
The breach dates back to 2010 but has only just been revealed by a UK data breach specialist, who was investigating the black market in stolen company databases. The information includes the names, emails, addresses and dates of birth of 650,000 Paddy Power customers overall. Ferguson said: “I bought lots of data for marketing but I did not hack anything.”
According to documents Paddy Power filed in a Canadian court, Ferguson tried to sell the company’s database to the UK data breach specialist for just €7,600 (£6,000) – less than 1p per thousand names – claiming that he had consulted for “major companies and individuals” in the brokering of gaming databases.
“This data is very, very good and a unique marketing opportunity as you can get immediately a ton of players and affiliates,” Ferguson wrote in an email in May. “As you can see it’s very extensive and easily monetised. You get exclusive rights as he wants to foster repeat business and long-term relations with people. Once I pay him the cash, he delivers all links.”
Ferguson wanted €7,600 for the files and sent the specialist a sample of the data, the court documents show. The Paddy Power data was among a package of lists Ferguson was selling for a Maltese contact, according to the court filings.
“I thought I was acting within the realm of legality,” said Ferguson told Bloomberg. “Is it ethical? “Should I have had the data? To my knowledge, there’s no precedent.”
However, Paddy Power secured two Canadian court orders, and seized a hard drive and other equipment containing the stolen later; the information has snce been destroyed.
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