A trainee journalist on Press Association’s foundation training course landed the exclusive story about the financial details of thousands of Britons being sold via the internet.
Alexi Mostrous who is training on The Times, found, researched and wrote the story which was followed up by other national media.
Former barrister Mostrous, who is nearing the end of his 16-week training course, 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.”
Course leader Paul Jones added: ‘We have had a great run of page leads in the Newcastle papers this course including three splashes in the morning paper, but to get a national front page lead is rather special.”
Mostrous in first heard that his story had made the splash when he heard John Humphrys reading it out on the Today Programme.