The teenage con artist behind a £2.5m global crime spree


By Suzanne AllanBBC Scotland News

Two Rivers Media/BBC Elliot CastroTwo Rivers Media/BBC

Elliot Castro was 16 when he first conned somebody out of their financial institution particulars

Elliot Castro was 16 and promoting cellphones from a Glasgow name centre when he first conned somebody out of their financial institution particulars.

Soon he was having fun with a champagne life-style, that included first-class flights and luxurious watches.

The teenager would go on to mastermind the theft of £2.5m from an audacious collection of scams earlier than lastly dropped at justice in a division retailer bathroom in Edinburgh.

Castro, who now works as a fraud prevention knowledgeable, shared his outstanding story in a new BBC Scotland documentary, Confessions of a Teenager Fraudster.

It chronicles his fast rise from leaving college with no {qualifications} to spending $1,000 (£786) on a bottle of champagne for buddies in a New York bar.

Castro, now 42, recollects the primary time he conned a buyer after they known as in with an order.

Instead of placing the order by as regular he pretended there was a drawback with the bank card after which proceeded to dupe them into pondering he had their financial institution on the road.

Seconds later he had their particulars and a rip-off was born.

He recalled: “I do not keep in mind having that Eureka second, in the event you like.

“It was simply one thing that I did one time and I believed ‘I’m wondering if I can do that?'”

Getty Gucci, Bond St, LondonGetty

Castro advised the documentary he purchased a £300 belt in Gucci in Bond St, London

Castro’s spending was modest to start with however, like his offending, it quickly escalated.

He advised BBC Radio Scotland’s Mornings programme: “That was the start of 5 years of absolute craziness from the time I used to be 16 up till 21, 22.

“The first time I ever bought maintain of a card it was CDs and haircuts and t-shirts at that time.

“There was no trace of how psychological it could get afterward.”

The fraudster was born in Aberdeen in 1982 and attended eight totally different faculties earlier than he moved to Glasgow along with his household in 1998.

He described himself as a dreamer and admitted mendacity on the appliance for his name centre job and stated he was 18 as a substitute of 16.

Castro, who’s half Chilean, stated: “I had it in my head that I’d simply have this superb life-style.”

His legal profession finally bankrolled unique holidays, five-star lodges, lavish events and limousines.

During one journey to London in 1999 Castro purchased a Gucci belt for £300 – which he stated was greater than he earned in a week within the name centre.

The Home Alone fan later splashed greater than £8,000 on a first-class flight to New York, the place he stayed within the Plaza Hotel, which options within the celebrated film.

His journey featured a three-day $15,000 (£11,791) spending spree on town’s unique Fifth Avenue.

James Burns Elliot CastroJames Burns

Castro now works with monetary establishments, journey corporations and companies to fight fraud

Castro admitted: “A basic day in my life at the moment was wake-up, buy groceries, purchase issues, go ingesting, return to no matter resort I used to be staying in that night time, sleep, get up the subsequent day and repeat.

“But all of this time I needed to be conscious that I used to be presumably being adopted or that somebody could be seeking to catch me.”

In 2001 he loved journeys to Germany, France and Spain.

The following yr he frolicked in Ireland, the place he stayed at The Clarence Hotel in Dublin and claimed he rubbed shoulders with U2 stars.

Castro stated: “It’s a resort owned by Bono and the Edge and we had a dialog one night time within the bar the place I advised them I used to be working for the Ministry of Defence or a resort marketing consultant.”

The con man had a number of brushes with the legislation, courting again to 2001 when he spent 4 months in a younger offenders’ institute in Lancaster.

Months later he was arrested on the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and brought to Manchester, the place he was sentenced to 18 months at HMP Hindley.

During this time he bought a job within the jail library and skim up in regards to the web.

This analysis led him to make use of web cafes on his launch to make nameless flight bookings with stolen bank cards.

In 2002 he was arrested in Toronto and jailed for 87 days earlier than being deported in 2003.

Getty Harvey Nichols, EdinburghGetty

His worldwide crime spree finally got here to an finish within the Harvey Nichols division retailer in Edinburgh the next yr.

Castro stated: “I used to be starting to really feel finished with it, I’d began for the primary time in my life to make buddies.

“But the draw back was I could not inform them who I actually was.

“The scenario grew to become insufferable.

“So I do surprise, was there a unconscious a part of me that needed to present it up?”

That day he purchased £2,000 of vouchers with a card that wasn’t in his title.

The receptionist known as the cardboard firm, who accredited the transaction.

But, appearing on a hunch, she known as them again.

He stated: “They bought in contact with the actual card holder who verified it was fraudulent and stupidly I got here again to the store lower than an hour later and that is the second it ended.

“I went to the bathroom rapidly and once I opened the cubicle door there was a plain garments police officer there and that was the start of the tip.”

The following yr at Isleworth Crown Court in Middlesex, Castro admitted fraud offences amounting to greater than £73,000 and was sentenced to 2 years.

Getty card fraudGetty

Castro admits he benefited from a lack of co-operation between legislation enforcement businesses and card corporations.

He stated: “Through the 5 years, in the event that they’d had higher communication then they could have managed to cease me faster.”

Today he’s a totally different man, stuffed with remorse over the distress he brought about and eager to not glamourise theft.

He can be serving to to cease subtle scams and catch bank card fraudsters.

Castro stated: “When I began doing this I by no means truly considered individuals.

“I by no means met these individuals. That does not make it proper.

“What I understood about the way in which bank cards labored on the time was that if the cardholder hadn’t authorised the transactions – which in my case they did not – then they would not lose something financially.”

More than 20 years on, he feels he’s making amends for his actions as a teenager and a younger man.

He stated: “I’m not making excuses, however it’s a very, very very long time in the past and I prefer to assume since then I’ve made reparations.

“Fortunately I’m in a place now that I’m working with monetary establishments, journey corporations and companies.

“I’m lucky and fortunate to be referred to as a trusted advisor within the trade now, which is nice.

“It’s been an fascinating journey.”

Confessions of a Teenage Fraudster is on the market on BBC iPlayer.

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