Elliot Castro | Disruptor Day 2023

Blog | Posted: 27-11-2023
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Fraudster to Business Advisor

Elliot Castro, our keynote speaker at Disruptor Day, has a unique background—he went from being a scammer and fraudster to becoming a business advisor. Today, he helps companies avoid falling victim to scams. Let’s delve into his story.

Twenty years ago, Elliot spent two years in prison due to his involvement in a five-year-long crime spree. Growing up in Glasgow, he got into fraud at a young age when he found a credit card on the floor in a train station and used this to try and buy his train ticket. This marked the beginning of his fraudulent activities.

At the age of 16, Elliot got a job in a call centre, where he noticed he had access to lots of sensitive information and he began to keep a list of customers’ credit card details. After losing his job, surprisingly for being late and not for any criminal undertakings, he took his list with him and disappeared off to Manchester. He began to make small purchases like CDs and haircuts, but his fraudulent activities really stepped up when he discovered the value of corporate credit cards, as he could buy things of large value without any questions being asked. His purchases become much larger and more extravagant. His schemes took him internationally, until eventually he was caught in Canada.

After spending time in a Toronto jail, he was deported to the UK. However, he managed to escape the authorities’ notice at the airport and returned to Glasgow. Despite facing some nail-bitingly close calls and challenges, Elliot continued his fraudulent activities, but he began to get complacent. Eventually getting caught in Edinburgh after he purchased £2,000 of gift vouchers at Harvey Nichols.

Since his release in 2005, Elliot has turned his life around. He wrote a book titled “Other People’s Money” about his experiences and now shares his story at various events, whilst helping businesses understand and prevent fraud.

Find out more by watching the video below.

Discussion Points

[00:00 – 16:41] Early Life and Introduction to Fraud:

  • Elliot grew up in Glasgow and had his first experience with fraud at the age of 15 when he found a credit card on a train. He shares a story about using the found credit card to buy a train ticket, unknowingly misjudging others’ gut feelings.

[16:41 – 17:40] Escalation of Criminal Activities:

  • Elliot’s troubled early life led him to be an outcast, and he struggled to relate to peers his age.
  • After leaving school, he worked at a mobile phone network, where he discovered the potential for fraud by intercepting customer calls.
  • He details the evolution of his criminal activities, from small purchases to using corporate credit cards for high-value transactions.

[17:40 – 19:24] International Travel and Escapes:

  • Elliot recounts incidents of being arrested, hunted, and eventually caught during his travels, particularly in Ireland and Canada.
  • He shares a harrowing experience of being arrested at Dublin Airport and later being deported from Canada.

[19:24 – 20:36] Ingenious Techniques and Small Details:

  • Elliot describes the importance of small details in successful fraud, such as mimicking conversations in hotel rooms to gather information.
  • He highlights the use of variations of names and exploiting credit card company policies to avoid suspicion.

[20:36 – 22:40] Turning Point and Consequences:

  • Elliot starts building friendships in Belfast, marking a turning point in his life.
  • He reveals how his criminal activities eventually caught up with him, leading to arrests and legal consequences.
  • He describes a failed attempt to purchase gift vouchers in Edinburgh, which ultimately led to his final arrest.

[22:40 – 33:59] Legal Consequences and Rehabilitation:

  • Elliot acknowledges the consequences of his actions, including serving a two-year sentence in London.
  • He emphasises that his experiences are from the past and expresses gratitude for the opportunity to share his story.

[33:10 – 46:34] Closing Remarks and Q&A:

  • Elliot thanks the audience and reflects on his journey.
  • The audience participates in a Q&A session with questions covering education, risk-taking and skill development.