A YORK computer hacker has been jailed for an ID fraud which affected thousands of people and could have netted him £834,000.

Southwark Crown Court was told how Edward Pearson, 23, used internet viruses to gain more than eight million personal details that could be used for credit card fraud and identity theft including details of paypal accounts, 2,701 bank cards and enough dates of birth, postcodes and names to fill 67,500 double-sided A4 pages. Police experts calculated he could have made £834,000 by using the information fraudulently, but he only made £2,351.

Recorder Ann Mulligan described it as a very sophisticated crime which put “many, many individuals at risk of attack.”

Pearson, of Lendal, York, admitted making an article for use in fraud and two counts of possession of an article for use in fraud and was jailed for 26 months. His girlfriend Cassandra Mennim, 21, of Balmoral Terrace, Newcastle, admitted two counts of obtaining services dishonestly and was given 12 months’ supervision. She triggered the police investigation which uncovered the fraud by using some of the details to book rooms at two York hotels, the Cedar Court Grand Hotel and Lady Anne Middleton’s Hotel.

For Pearson, Andrew Bodnar said he designed the viruses as “an intellectual challege”. For Mennim, Stephen Grattage said she was a vulnerable young woman who had found comfort in Pearson following a difficult previous relationship.