Inmate Escapes by Emailing Own Release Order to Jail

A crime of 'extraordinary criminal inventiveness, deviousness': prosecutor
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2015 3:59 PM CDT
Sorry, this isn't the guy.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A smuggled cellphone and an online scheme that even a British judge called "ingenious" allowed a 28-year-old inmate waiting for his fraud trial to escape prison, NBC News reports. Last March, Neil Moore was housed in England's Wandsworth Prison—the same facility that once housed Julian Assange and allowed Ronnie "Great Train Robber" Biggs to escape 50 years ago, NPR notes—when he came up with his plan: Using the phone he wasn't supposed to have, Moore created a fake Web domain that resembled that of London's Royal Courts of Justice. He then emailed an order from a supposed bail clerk to Wandsworth detailing the OK for his own release, the BBC reports. He was set free on March 10, 2014, and his MIA status wasn't discovered for three days.

What Moore pulled off is a variation of online fraud called "typosquatting," in which a fake website looks like a legit one, save for a misplaced letter or two in the URL, NBC notes. "A lot of criminal ingenuity harbors in the mind of Mr. Moore," one of the case's prosecutors said, per the BBC. Moore's self-imposed freedom didn't last long: His lawyer told the Press Association he turned himself in a few days after he fled, NBC notes; he pleaded guilty to fraud and escape from lawful custody and is due for sentencing April 20. Apparently, online impersonation isn't Moore's only talent: His original fraud charges arose, among other things, from accusations that he pretended to be a woman, reports the BBC. (Typosquatting is kind of like someone grabbing up Ted Cruz-related sites … but different.)

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