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Trainee reporter wins national splash with data sale story

A trainee on the PA Foundation Course in Newcastle landed a scoop which sparked reaction from Whitehall to Scotland Yard.

Times trainee Alexi Mostrous delivered an exclusive splash for his paper about the financial details of thousands of Britons being sold on the Internet.

He found, researched and wrote the piece while completing his studies on the 16-week training course.

The former barrister said: “After the loss of the HMRC child database, I wanted to see exactly how criminals bought and sold confidential information on the web.

“I discovered there were hundreds of internet sites where fraudsters could advertise stolen credit card or pin numbers.

“A bit more research brought up actual bank details on more than 30 people around the UK. They were offered as free ‘samples’ to encourage criminals to place big orders.

“I downloaded the information, contacted the people concerned, passed everything on to the Metropolitan Police and the Information Commissioner and wrote up the story.”

Alexi was in Newcastle on the day his story was used and only found out that it was the splash when he heard John Humphrys reading it out on the Today Programme.

Course leader Paul Jones said: “We have had a great run of page leads in the Newcastle papers during this course including three splashes in the morning paper but to get a national front page lead is rather special.”