Thousands of Barclays customers have had their personal data stolen and sold on to manipulative “rogue traders”, a newspaper has claimed.
A whistleblower told the Mail on Sunday the leaked data included people’s medical issues, incomes, savings and insurance policies – described as a “gold mine” that could be manipulated by traders running investment scams.
The former broker passed on a memory stick of 2,000 Barclays customers’ details, a sample of the reported 27,000 that were leaked in all, telling the newspaper he wanted to put a stop to an “illegal trade [that] is going on all the time in the City”.
Barclays said it would be contacting the customers involved, all of whom are believed to have originally approached the bank for advice from its Barclays Financial Planning service, which was shut down in 2011.
The police and Information Commissioner’s Office have now launched investigations into the matter, and the bank said it would be co-operating with the authorities on “pursuing the perpetrator”. The maximum fine for losing personal data is £500,000 – but there is no limit to the fines which can be levied by the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the whistleblower said customer files were sold on for £50 each to the City’s most manipulative rogue traders. “It was pure gold to brokers because it gave them a psychological edge over potential investors - their victims,” he said.
“They knew exactly how much money these people were prepared to invest and their attitude to risk. They knew everything about them and tailored their strategy accordingly.”
The whistleblower estimated that up to 1,000 people had been successfully “scammed” on the basis of the so-called “Barclays leads”, convinced by traders to invest in rare earth metals that did not exist.
He told the newspaper that after being tasked with selling on personal files that had already been “rinsed” (used in attempts to sell bad investments), his “conscience got the better of [him]”, and that he was willing to make a statement to police.
A Barclays spokeswoman said the bank was “grateful” to the Mail on Sunday for making them aware of the leak, and insisted that protecting customers’ data was a “top priority”.
“We will take all necessary steps to contact and advise those customers as soon as possible so that they can also ensure the safety of their personal data,” she said.
“This appears to be criminal action and we will co-operate with the authorities on pursuing the perpetrator. We would like to reassure all of our customers that we have taken every practical measure to ensure that personal and financial details remain as safe and secure as possible.”
A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office said: “It's crucial that people's personal information is properly looked after. We'll be working with the Mail on Sunday this week to get further details of what has happened here, as well as working with the police.”