Former Waka Kotahi employee jailed for identity theft

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The debilitating effects of identity theft by a drug-addicted former Waka Kotahi contract worker left a man without a career in the company and forced to rely on his parents for accommodation.

By Jimmy Ellingham of rnz.co.nz

At Palmerston North District Court today, David Allan Davies was jailed for dishonestly accessing Transport Agency systems and altering records while working there in 2018.

The 38-year-old, from Levin, also created fake IDs under other people’s names, getting tens of thousands of dollars in credit.

He claimed he was coerced into committing his offense by gang members claiming drug debts from a boarder who lived with his mother, saying he was threatened with violence if he did not change Waka Kotahi’s records or didn’t get any money, although Judge Bruce Northwood dismissed it.

The former boarder told police Davies was a drug user himself, regularly sitting in his room smoking methamphetamine. He changed the license details in exchange for methamphetamine.

One of the victims of the identity theft was Auckland man David Kerr, under whose name Davies racked up $26,000 in debt.

Earlier this year, in an earlier sentencing attempt on Davies, Kerr said the offense dropped his credit rating from perfect to bad and rescinded his pre-approval to buy a house.

Due to the stress, Kerr quit a job with the company and couldn’t find any other work that involved managing money, so he turned to driving trucks and heavy machinery. .

“I lost more than 50% of my salary.”

Kerr didn’t understand why he was being targeted. “I only realized something was wrong when my pre-approved home loan was called back by my bank.”

Kerr had to move back in with his parents, saying it made him feel like a failure as a man in his thirties.

The effects of Davies’ offense continued, as Kerr struggled to convince credit agencies that he was the victim of identity theft.

“I don’t even have enough credit to buy a simple thing like buying a microwave… Unfortunately, this guy will always be a part of my life. I will never forget him, unfortunately.”

Judge Northwood today said some of Davies’ offenses clearly benefited him, such as taking credit from Fonterra’s farm supplies, apparently to feed his pets.

And he changed his own records to get rid of a disqualifying driving charge.

Judge Northwood jailed him for two years, five months and two weeks after Davies previously admitted to 21 charges of dishonesty.

Davies’ identity fraud netted his victims $53,000 in credit, while he tried to win another $98,000.

The judge noted the effect of Davies’ crimes on Kerr.

“He was a complete stranger to you and before his life was affected by what you did to him, he had a solid personal situation and a good job.”

Waka Kotahi also filed a victim impact statement, saying Davies’ offense damaged his reputation and caused suspicion from suspected personnel.

Davies’ attorney, Kila Pedder, argued for house arrest.

Among the reasons, Davies was his mother’s primary caregiver.

But the judge said their relationship did not appear healthy and there had been 111 reports of incidents of domestic violence between them to police.

Pre-sentence reports differed as to Davies’ drug use – he denied it, although his mother contradicted it.

Pedder said Davies was remorseful, contacted credit companies to explain his offense and attended a restorative justice meeting with Kerr.

Crown Attorney Guy Carter said Davies should be sent to jail and showed no genuine remorse.

“It is the position of the Crown that this defendant continues to minimize his offense and, in particular, he minimizes his reasons for offending.”

Judge Northwood declined to impose a remedy because Davies had no way to pay it.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Waka Kotahi said Davies “illegally accessed personal information from the Driver’s License Registry and the Motor Vehicle Registry, including names, addresses, dates of birth and license details. to drive customers”.

“Mr Davies was immediately terminated from Waka Kotahi and we immediately launched and completed an investigation. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has also been notified and Waka Kotahi has assisted New Zealand Police with their investigation. “

Waka Kotahi verified data subject information to ensure it was correct, and reviewed and strengthened internal processes to prevent unauthorized access to its systems.

It has tighter controls over who has had access to this information, and more audits, reports and checks.

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