Apologies for the length of this post, but I hope the read will be worthwhile. If anyone else has had experiences similar to mine perhaps they could add to the thread in the hope of exposing this individual and stopping his activities.
Some months ago I was notified of 'unusual transactions' by my credit card company. Some of the transactions were stopped, others had gone through but were indemnified so I suffered no personal loss, other than the inconvenience of changing my card details.
The transactions were mainly online purchases of high-value items, such as professional catering equipment including coffee machines. I was concerned to discover how my personal details had leaked out, so out of curiosity, I traced and spoke to all the traders to see whether I could find any clues.
It turns out that the impostor had supplied my correct address for delivery. Apparently items such as he had been ordering are delivered by courier at a pre-arranged time which would enable the impostor to wait outside the specified address to collect the item from the courier without the householder's knowledge. This individual has been active, using a number of different identities and addresses in Wandsworth, Putney, Clapham and Battersea. He has, however, been betrayed by the same mobile phone numbers.
This suggests that the impostor is local and has access to credit card data including addresses. I have my own suspicions about the type of local establishment that might store these and I am sure readers will have theirs.
One of the suppliers had actually just declined another purchase from the same individual (using another new name with my address but the same phone number) when I made contact. The supplier offered to get back to the impostor and set up a dummy delivery in order to catch him red-handed. Sadly, the impostor did not take up the offer, possibly having smelt a rat.
Meanwhile I was tracing the other transactions that had gone through. One was to Wandsworth Council. This turned out to be a payment for a parking offence. I thought that this would clearly identify the name and address of the individual. In contrast to the attitude of the other commercial victims, Wandsworth Council refused outright to supply the details to me, citing 'data protection' (that is, protecting the identity of a criminal at the expense of honest taxpayers) but said they would provide details to the police, if requested by the police themselves. They declined to say whether they themselves would be taking action to prosecute the individual for having defauded them.
If any other readers have had experience of reporting fraud to the police, they will know what I'm talking about. Every effort is made to avoid the victim communicating directly with an investigator. You are referred to an organisation called 'Action Fraud' which issues a reference number and does nothing else. I contacted the 'Safer Neighborhood team' mentioning the offer from the trader to set up a dummy delivery and was told that the officer would need to contact his superiors, but I received no further word.
I am not for a moment suggesting that the police are being lazy - they clearly have more pressing priorities and are suffering from cuts like the rest of us. Several senior officers have admitted that the police cannot cope with the level of online fraud. They are even now looking at abandoning routine investigation of burglary.
If I were a criminal, I would be rubbing my hands with glee. So the question I pose is, if the police are unable to do their job protecting us from crime, some of us may well be prepared to take the DIY approach, using publicity, civil court action, or whatever. But should public authorities like Wandsworth Council be allowed to expose their taxpayers to the risk of further crime by sitting on information on the grounds of 'data protection' ?