Meet the man who's selling your private data

19 July 2011

Bitterwallet - spamWhat happens to all the personal data collected by websites? How much care do companies really take to protect it? How easy is it for third parties to buy and abuse your details?

Several weeks ago, we received a spam email offering a large database of private information for sale. It was one of those rare occasions we replied, simply because the individual signed the email with their own name. We negotiated back and forth over email and received a sample of the database for authentication. It appeared to be genuine - every entry included the full name, email address and postcode. The seller offered additional information such as phone numbers.

The sender's name was Jamie Wale; in subsequent emails he stopped using the anonymous Gmail address he'd initially spammed people with, and began using a second address. Google linked the same address to several websites, one of which proved Jamie isn't shy of the fact he's selling personal data. The address was also found on a forum where Wale mentioned working in the Glasgow/Edinburgh region, and a career in "health club sales management". That strongly suggests he is the same Jamie Wale on LinkedIn who was educated in Calderhead and lives in Edinburgh, and who recently worked as a sales and marketing manager for Esporta, a national chain of fitness centres. That's very relevant, because Wale confirmed the database for sale "came from 2 fitness clubs websites."

Negotiations went very well, so well that Wale sent us complete details for two different bank accounts so that we could pay him. We went cold on the deal and stopped replying, and that was the last we heard - until yesterday:

Hi Again,

I have sold and spoke to you regarding data in the past few weeks. I am retiring over the next day or two and will no longer be working as a Consultant, and am fortunately moving to more sunnier shores.

I have alot of data as you know, and this will be the last day you will have the chance to get any from myself. I have all the below data uploaded and ready to send, and I am happy to listen to any 'sensible offers' for any of the data. All offers will be considered.

I will not have the time to sit and discuss back and forward with everyone individually, so if your interested, email me with what price your willing to pay, and what data it is you want. No timewasters i.e. 'next week'.

Please see below all data available. (All data is UK) All come with name email address and phone number. E-mail me if interested.

1. 1.2 Million new businesses from January 2009
2. 2.2 million UK health club members with
3. 300,000 'large property company' registered newsletter members.
4. 14,000 property investors who've invested more than 1 million in property since January 2011.
5. 103,000 investors in business since 2010
6. 120,000 property investors who have invested since November 2009
7. 2.5 million businesses with all details
8. 13 million UK home owners, just with email addresses.
9. 35,000 mortgage details with banks etc.
10. 168,000 who have applied for a loan of more than 5k in the past 3 years
11. 100,000 main contacts of companies turning over more than £50million
12. Also have 19million Uk home owners with just phone numbers for call centres etc.

I look forward to hearing from you.

This time we replied and asked Wale how he came by the data:

BW: Got your email about selling up before retiring. Just to check your databases were all opt-in and you have permission to sell them?

Wale: Yes I do, all opt in with ip's etc. I fly out tomorrow. Any deals need to ber concluded today.

BW: Cool. So your former employers sold them to you to resell, or do you give a cut to them?

Wale: I purchased to re sell. My friend works in a property companyt, hence I get a lot of that too. He gets a cut of what I sell property data wise.

BW: Great, so the fitness group are ok with it. Is your mate allowed to pass on stuff he gets?

Wale: As long as you give them the option to opt out any emails you send you will get 0 complaints. They've all agreed to receove marketing emails. I am away from tomorrow so let me know what your interested in and we'll disucss price

Wale has now 'retired' to Spain, although a quick Google suggests he can probably be found working in Malaga over the summer.

If the health club database did originate from Esporta, there's nothing in their privacy policy to state personal information will ever be passed on to third parties not associated with the company. We've contacted Esporta to confirm whether Wale was in their employment and for details about their customer database - we're waiting to hear from them, although it's also possible Wale came by the database from a source other than Esporta. Regardless, very few marketing opt-ins allow for data to be sold by an individual to his mate and then onto any individual who wants it - many companies will restrict who the information is shared with.

Because of Jamie Wale and others like him, our inboxes fill up with spam and our phone rings off the hook with cold calls and scams. Millions of sets of personal data are constantly being sold on for just a few hundred pounds - and yours is probably among them.

TOPICS:   Privacy


  • Stringer B.
    Can the information you have gathered not be used as evidence and the matter treated under criminal activity?
  • br04dyz
    what a Crim! You wanna get TV's Bald Bloke from Cowboy Builders on this pronto.!
  • The B.
    You should forward all this on to the ICO so they can sit with their thumbs up their arses and do feck all about it as usual.
  • Rob
    Why The FXXXXX Dont you report him under the Eight Principles of the Data Protection Act? i alsways do this to cpompanies who make unsolicited Mailing Contact etc and ask them for £50 for my inconvenience.....the alterntive i say is being Formlly Reported to the Information Commissioners Office......You Know What?..... 99.7% Success Rate So Far.... £680.00 thios year so far..... £975 Last Year.....Nice!!!
  • steve
    My god! iv'e seen cross dressing nigerian scamnsters spell better than this guy....
  • Curious
    You got a template letter for that Rob? :)
  • Russ B.
    Tangentially related: Beware of the site, which I logged on to recently for a bit of practical assistance with a possible office move. There is a webtracker on the site which records all your pc details - I am now being flooded with emails and telephone calls from removal companies, interior design and office refit people, chartered surveyors and property management gonks who have all been sold my details. Apparently the site DOES tell you about this in their "privacy policy" statement which, of course, is tucked away somewhere deep in the site where you wont be looking.
  • Loafer1946
    Saw his email about work in Malaga - bet its selling timeshare . Youth unemployment in Spain is 43% no chance of getting a job there he's a right con man
  • Ricky
    Would be nice to get this guys email and home phone number, it would be fun to ring him or email him and ask if he was interested in buying spare engine parts for a 1977 Suzuki GT380, or if he would be interested in becoming my neighbour in Farmville, etc, I could come up with loads of obscure and irrelevant things to ask him to buy, day after day :-)
  • Tom
    You are allowed to send unsolicited email to company addresses, you can't send it to the general public unless they 1. opted in and 2. can opt out. So A good number of his databases are perfectly legal. If a member of the public signed up for a service and did not check the tnc indicating whether their details would be passed onto 3rd parties then that data is legal too. Just STFU and get a decent email provider with decent spam protection.
  • Neil W.
    Hello Paul - just spotted the incoming traffic from you / bitterwallet, and found the Forum posting which I hadn't spotted before - so thanks for that. I have deleted it now though, and would like to point out a couple of things... 1) We ( have no truck whatsoever with any illegal or unethical selling of anything. Quite the opposite, in fact... 2) And as that link will also suffice to demonstrate, the "old" Forum is actually also awaiting transformation into a reader-generated part of our morph from "online magazine" into "discussion hub and professional community centre" for the UK sales profession, and suppliers to it. So it's a bit "quiet", in the meantime. Many thanks again though for your observation, and I thoroughly support your points made above. Regards - Neil Warren, Publisher,
  • Leon
    Tom, That is not the point the whole issue around selling personal data stinks and should be outlawed and most certainly be opt in and not opt out.
  • mr w.
    Viva espana... All above board, thanks tom...
  • Ren
    I have received a similar email from this bloke today. Is there anywhere I could report him to?
  • Elaine W.
    I have also received an e-mail from this guy today trying to sell me the same data as in the list above...!
  • Chris
    I keep getting the same mail from this idiot. He has a cleaning business or 2 so he sells his clients names too I am guessing. I have opted out how many times and now I am about to trace his number and call the bastard! this must be illegal, can we just sort him out once and for all. Unfortunately I have a profile on LinkedIn and deal with public clients who need my details, so he has stolen my stuff too. I get calls weekly from people asking about Google and if I have a job for them. Anybody got a number for him? I wish to call him direct as my mails from him have already been blocked. He sends mails on LinkedIn too.
  • john w.
    i just received a full list with costs for each just this morning thank got i typed in his company name and landed in here
  • Nick
    this guy is still at it, receiving more than weekly emails selling contact lists... what a dope
  • Jason
    This guy is says that he has all of the above data collected legally.. Has anybody ever taken data from him.. He bombards samples every other day in my inbox... I just need good opt in data but this guy cant be trusted now..
  • John
    This guy [email protected] is constantly spamming me trying to sell email lists, having asked him to remove me from his mailing list numerous times he still persists!! Beware of this conman!! He runs a window cleaning business and sells email lists, what a plonker!
  • John
    Anyone else still have this guy emailing lists to them at bargain prices?? Doesn't give much hope for the quality of the lists if when you ask him to remove you he ignores the requests. By law he has to remove you if you ask him to doesn't he?
  • cleaning, c.
    Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I am inspired! Very useful information specially the final part :) I take care of such information much. I was seeking this certain info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

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