IT expert from Harborough tried to blackmail the firm he worked for

Christopher Read
Christopher Read

A Harborough IT manager who posed as an all-seeing cyber hacker to blackmail his own boss has been jailed.

Christopher Read, 22, formerly of Butt Lane, Husbands Bosworth, sent untraceable emails to the managing director of Oadby-based high-tech aerospace business Tek4, threatening to delete important company data and unleash a computer virus unless a hefty ransom was paid.

The first email was received on Friday, January 13, 2017, with a further 25 landing in the inbox over a week.

The messages became increasingly menacing, stating GPS coordinates of vehicle locations and making reference to listening devices, suggesting someone was watching the company’s every move. Read himself claimed he had been followed in his car.

Meanwhile the ransom rose steadily to £200,000.

But details relating to the plot were found written in Read’s notebook. Read was arrested. Further enquiries found the IT manager was himself behind the blackmail plot against his own company.

Read pleaded guilty to blackmail and theft of computer equipment in relation to Tek4, as well as a fraud involving gift cards. At Leicester Crown Court, he was jailed for seven years six months.

Jason Duffin, managing director of Tek4 said: “We are thankful for the support of the Regional Cyber Crime Unit and other experts, staff and friends. We pray for Chris Read and his family.”

Cyber Crime detective Annie Frost, from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, said: “Read witnessed the incredible distress his threats were causing Mr Duffin, who had trusted him implicitly.”

She said Read claimed he was bored, and thought he could create a problem, before “saving the day” himself.

But even when the police were called he “continued with the façade, causing even more disruption and anguish”.