Twenty-six year old Elliot Castro is a former credit card thief who went on a five year spending spree worth £1 million.
Castro now works as a freelance fraud consultant and shared his alternative perspective with delegates at the launch of travel industry anti-fraud group PROFiT last Friday.
He was first tempted into fraud when working at a call centre for a mobile phone company.
When Castro was eventually sacked for bad timekeeping, he took the notepad with him. He decided to phone banks and add himself on to the customers’ accounts, asking for the card to be sent to his own address.
Castro then went into a spending frenzy, buying first class airline tickets, luxury hotel rooms and designer clothes.
In hotels, Castro would use his cunning to get hold of fellow guests’ credit card information. He would linger at reception as they checked in to hear their name and room number, then go back to his own room and phone them to “confirm” their details.
It could be anything from two days to two months before the victim knew he was being scammed.
“With corporate cards, the companies just paid the bill without checking the statement so I could get away with it for longer,” he said. “I didn’t think about the effect it had on the people I stole from – I just blocked it out.”
Eventually Castro was tracked down on a shopping spree at Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh, and sent to jail for three years. Now on the straight and narrow working as a DJ and consultant, he seems relieved his days as a fraudster are over.
“I had to tell friends the money was from a rich relative who had a management consultancy company in America,” he said.
“I could never really get to know anyone properly as they could never find out who I really was. I might not have as much money now, but I feel much better about myself.”
Video: Meet ex-fraudster Elliot Castro
February 2009 is Fraud Awareness Month in Travel Weekly. Read more at travelweekly.co.uk/fraud
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