Globetrotting teenager scammed $1.9 million

A cheeky teenage con artist has become such a skilled fraudster that he managed to convince credit card companies to give him fraudulent plastic in his name.

Elliot “Fiddle” Castro came up with this ruse to maintain a lavish lifestyle funded by thousands of card details he stole during a stunning crime spree.

It’s just one of many startling confessions Castro, from Glasgow, Scotland, makes in the warts-and-all documentary about becoming a global fraud dealer at 18.

And at the age of 20, he squandered more than $1.9 million, defrauded by innocent people and wanted by law enforcement officers at home and abroad, The sun reported.

Castro, now 41, recounts his astonishing years as an elusive child con artist in the BBC‘s Confessions of a teenage con artist.

He says: “By the time I was 20 I had spent over a million pounds of other people’s money all over the world. Once you taste something good, it’s very hard to go back. You don’t do all that without getting hit here and there.

“But no degree of guilt or length of sentence ever convinced me to stop.”

Castro first became involved in crime after getting a job in a call center selling cell phones.

At the age of 16, he pretended to be 18, meaning he was placed in a role that gave him access to customers’ personal information.

He was eventually fired, but left after collecting enough sensitive information to start getting lenders to send credit cards to his home.

He said: “Other 16-year-olds were trying to get into the nightclub with fake IDs while I was scamming innocent cardholders out of their money.

“And I’m not bad at wasting it either. I lived a life you could only dream of.

“The best hotels, the best restaurants, first class as standard and none of it paid for out of pocket.

“I’d like to tell you that I got away with everything, but for every night I spent in a five-star hotel, I spent a lot more behind bars.”

Castro once spent a staggering $21,000 in a three-day spree.

And as his scams escalated, he found himself embroiled in bizarre scenarios.

He was once on a train after stealing a doctor’s details and paid for a ticket with a card that identified him as a doctor.

But when he unexpectedly heard a call on the loudspeaker seeking medical help, Castro was in trouble.

He recalled: “The train inspector remembered that the card was in the name of a doctor”.

Moments later, Castro, still a teenager, decided to help the injured woman along with two doctors instead of telling the truth.

He said: “She took me through the buffet where there was another passenger and two doctors.

“I had no real idea what was going on with this lady, but I thought it looked like a panic attack – in my ‘expert medical opinion’.

“And fortunately, the other two doctors agreed with my medical diagnosis.”

During his criminal days, he once even posed as an officer in the Serious Fraud Unit to contact credit card companies to establish his “wanted level”.

He said: “I asked to be put through to their fraud departments and explained that I was calling from the Serious Fraud Office.

“One by one they all said the same thing.”

He added: “I was being pursued by the Irish and British police along with one of the world’s biggest retailers. Now I could add the major credit card companies to that list.”

He moved to Belfast and mistook credit card scams for a money transfer scheme.

It sparked a period of chaotic spending that included a $95,000 BMW, shopping trips to Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles and a $19,000 splurge at a casino in Monte Carlo.

But as he struggled to deal with the guilt of living a lie, he became shallow.

He said: “The thrill is gone. I was spending and having fun on autopilot.”

He was eventually caught when a saleswoman became suspicious when he bought $3,800 worth of gift vouchers from Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh.

And in 2005, at the age of 21, he was sentenced to two years in open prison.

Castro said: “Things could have gone one of two ways for me, but the last time I got out of prison I decided I was never going back.”

Owen Miller, Head of Fraud Investigations at Expedia, said: “During my time at Expedia I have investigated somewhere around 1,000 total individual cases and Elliot is in the top five – if not the top.”

The reformed fraudster, who now produces music and advises on fraud prevention, felt now was the right time to speak out.

He said: “One of the best things to come out of this is that over the last 10 years I’ve had the opportunity to mentor other young people who have gotten in touch after hearing my story.”

Confessions of a Teenage Fraudster airs on Tuesdays at 10pm on BBC Scotland.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission.

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