TV Star Includes Bank Account In Editorial Saying Identity Theft Is No Big Deal, Gets Defrauded

Jeremy Clarkson, a British TV star, wrote an editorial describing privacy activism as “palaver,” and just to prove how safe we all are, included his bank account number. Soon afterwards someone snagged £500 from the Top Gear host’s account. “I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake,” the presenter later told reporters. Needless to say, you should never share your bank account information with anyone who doesn’t need it, for instance, millions of faceless readers.

Clarkson stung by fraud stunt [Guardian Unlimited via BoingBoing]


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  1. PinkBox says:

    LOL, moron…

  2. bonzombiekitty says:


  3. girlfriend 6.0 says:

    Darwin Award Nominee…

  4. nursetim says:

    He’s lucky it was only 500, and he wasn’t completely emptied out.

  5. chipslave says:


    How is this a Darwin Award nominee? Yes he was dumb, but its not like he was playing with fire or something to eradicate him from the human population…

  6. darkened says:

    @chipslave: Until the collection agencies come after that is

  7. ColoradoShark says:

    This is great! Any of
    -your legislators
    -credit report agency flaks
    -bank people
    who do not want to improve privacy laws and impose greater penalties for sloppy banks and credit agencies because there is no problem should prove it by publishing their social security number and bank account numbers.

  8. grouse says:

    He’s in the UK. There is something here called the Direct Debit Guarantee that guarantees any fraudulent debits of this sort will be immediately set right by the bank.

    It’s a good thing too, since your bank account information is on all of your cheques (they spell it funny here) and also given to anyone you send money to.

  9. shan6 says:

    Hah, I always had a curiosity about wether or not these people would get screwed. Like the guy who puts his full SSN on TV and stuff.

  10. Mrs. Stephen Fry says:

    Jeremy is a bonehead. He’s the only one I can’t stand on Top Gear. The dude is as dumb as a rock.

  11. Recury says:

    He’s right, people are too paranoid about this sort of thing. The bank will get him back his money which would basically prove him right, wouldn’t it?

  12. headon says:

    he bought a lot of publicity for 500 pounds.
    Any publicity is good publicity.
    Although Roger Clemmens may not feel that way now.

  13. swalve says:

    And who says it wasn’t some kind of privacy advocate who did it, just to prove their point? This story in meaningless.

  14. econobiker says:


    That is the lifelock nimrod. I too wonder if his SS is being used by illegal immigrants now…

  15. TurboWagon00 says:

    @MonkeySeeMonkeyDo: Uhmmm, you do realize that JC *is* Top Gear, right ? The other presenters are hangers-on and follow his lead. There’s probably a few million fans who would also disagree with your opinion, entitled as you are to have it.

  16. girly says:

    @turbowagon: Even if people are fans of his show, I could see people saying he has questionable judgment.

    Haven’t people been seriously injured on his show?

  17. headon says:

    @Swalve: By extrapolition that would make your comment meaningless. So next time don’t bother commenting.

  18. Mrs. Stephen Fry says:

    I can have an opinion? Gee, thanks, Turbowagon.

    My husband loves the show, but he also thinks Jeremy is a bonehead. Jeremy honestly thinks he is the coolest guy ever, and he is such a *huge* dork.

  19. veraikon says:

    Sounds like a typical JC stunt. He’s SO opinionated. In the America road trip show, the crew obviously went out of their way to portray America in the worst possible light just because he’s rabidly anti-American. Top Gear still rocks, tho.

  20. Mrs. Stephen Fry says:

    The show is fun to watch, even if only to make fun of Clarkson. I think James May is so deadpan and really funny, and good old Hamster is game for anything (as his accident proved). But JC? UGH.

  21. Munsoned says:

    Never heard of the show or this guy (being an American). Anyone else think he looks like he was separated at birth from Peter King (in looks, not actions)?

  22. vanilla-fro says:

    @swalve: um…they proved their point right? it doesn’t matter who it was. You’re probably right and that is why it was only 500 pounds and not more.

  23. firesign says:

    clarkson is an arrogant idiot. he deserved it.

  24. BSides27 says:

    I love Clarkson and Top Gear but he can be a real twat.

  25. cartmants says:

    This reminds me of the CEO of LifeLock (Todd Davis) and his commercial for the company. He believes in his business so much that he has plastered his SSN on their advertisements. (His SSN is: 457-55-5462 and his website and how his business works is: [] )

  26. clevershark says:

    Jezza should stick to talking about cars — when he talks about other things it’s painfully obvious that he still lives in the 1950s.

  27. themediatrix says:

    Hmmm — last week the WSJ had an ad for some privacy service which included the ss # of the president of the company, saying “this is how good our service is. I can publish my actual Social Security number and not be concerned.” Wonder how that will turn out? (Wish I remembered the name of the company; anyone know?)

  28. Benny Gesserit says:

    @MonkeySeeMonkeyDo: Ditto – can’t stand Top Gear because of him. I also cring whenever he shows up on QI.

  29. STrRedWolf says:

    The thing about Jeremy “Jezza” Clarkson is that he’s a loud, impatient Britt with a dicky hip, a busted back, a lead foot and the tendency to drive cars while yelling “POOWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRR!!!” He’s an egotistical adrenaline junkie, who believes the best thing to quit smoking is to drive a Koenesegg CCX (900 bhp on biofuel) and that the 254 MPH top speed of the Bugatti Veyron is the best out there because you can do it in the comfortable lap of luxury.

    Of course, that’s not to say he has his faults that he does own up to. This is one of many. Unfortunately for him, it took 500 quid to do it — a donation to a Diabetes center.

    Anyway, if you’re intrested in Top Gear, there’s three sites. BBC’s own BBC 2 Top Gear site (, BBC Magazines’ Top Gear (, and the Final Gear fansite (

  30. bmwloco says:

    I’d put Clarkson up there with Hunter S. Thompson or Edward Abbey. He’s not afraid to hang his ass out a bit and speak his mind.

    Good on ’em.

    I Tivo Top Gear and love it. It’s one of the best shows on TV. They don’t take themselves too seriously, take the piss out of cars and call a spade a spade.

    You couldn’t do that in Amerika. Everyone is too afraid to bite the hand that feeds them.

  31. machete_bear says:

    @msb2: nominee for someone who has never read the Darwin awards…

  32. Mrs. Stephen Fry says:

    JIM (THE CANUCK ONE): Oh, Jim, that is even worse. I love and eat up every second of QI, and as soon as I hear Clarkson is on the panel, I feel deflated. Stephen is far too kind to him. I wish he’d mock him kindly yet mercilessly the way he does some of his other thick guests.

  33. BuddyHinton says:

    Damn! I could have sworn I put down 500,000 pounds.

  34. aikoto says:

    This is a great story. It’s nice that people who think ID theft is a small problem can be so quickly and clearly debunked.

  35. joemono says:

    @MSB2: The Darwin Awards are given to members of society that remove themselves from the gene pool. Usually this happens through death, but the nominee doesn’t necessarily have to die.

    I think a lot of people (mostly Digg users) think that the Darwin Awards are simply awards for stupidity. They’re not.

  36. lostalaska says:

    It’s a shame they only got him for the 500 pounds. Because that is some amazing ignorance to think that you could just throw your bank info out there and think that no one would act on it. The guys seems to be an ignorant knob (at least with financial privacy/protection).

  37. Curiosity says:

    Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has a good FAQ on SSN and problems that arise (and how to deal with them): []

    The link to state law is also particularly interesting. []

  38. ShadowFalls says:


    I don’t know how well that applies when you broadcast your information to the world like an idiot.

  39. Buran says:

    @shan6: There are a few “demo” SSNs used for such purposes as well as the 555 telephone exchange that’s used for phone numbers shown in TV/movies/books. There are a few 555 numbers that actually work like the universal 555-1212 information number, but mostly they’re all nonfunctional. There are also the “reserved” demo domains example.[com|net|org].

  40. hn333 says:

    Jeremy spends 500 pounds on gas. I doubt he cares. Top Gear rocks BTW.

  41. HawkWolf says:

    Publically stating, “this will never happen, and to prove it, I will do [risky thing] right now!” is instant invitation to invoke murphy’s law.

    Especially if someone’s recording it.

  42. MrsMicah says:


    “And who says it wasn’t some kind of privacy advocate who did it, just to prove their point? This story in meaningless.”

    What that would prove is that it’s easy enough to do.

  43. clarkson is a god among men. He does stupid things all the time, and usually acknowledges the stupidity of them (driving through mississippi in an 80s iroc-z with ‘nascar is rubbish’ painted on it comes to mind).

    Watch the show, you’ll understand.

    For the record, he was voted the 4th funniest person in the history of Britain.

  44. Mrs. Stephen Fry says:

    Yes, those surveys are deeply meaningful. Ha!

  45. syncpulse says:

    The 500 was just to teach him a lesson the money wasn’t just taken form his account but it was donated to the British Diabetic Association. So in the end his arrogance at least had some positive results.

    I love his response to the whole mess. “I was wrong and i have been punished.”

  46. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:


  47. MelL says:

    @Recury: But after how long? He lost, I would assume, a very small portion of his savings. But what about someone who loses everything and has things going on in their life that need to be paid for?

  48. swalve says:

    @MrsMicah: Of course it’s easy to do, if you’ve been given the bank account number.

  49. RocktheDebit says:

    @MonkeySeeMonkeyDo: Oh, please let this be in Stephen’s next “Dork Talk” column. Or on the next series of QI.

  50. iEddie says:

    @themediatrix: That company is Lifelock. And I believe their president is an identity thief.

  51. Mrs. Stephen Fry says:

    Yes, please!