Sophie Ryan

Sophie Ryan is an APNZ reporter.

Private investigator's illegal access of Work and Income database

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A private investigator will lose his practising certificate after being convicted of accessing the Work and Income database by impersonation.

Aaron Evans was fined $1000 and sentenced to 240 hours community work for indirectly accessing the Winz database and thereby by deception and without claim of right obtaining a person's home address.

Evans appeared before Judge Rob Ronayne at the Auckland District Court today after previously pleading guilty to the offence.

Judge Ronayne told the court how Evans called Work and Income New Zealand and gave his name as the name of the victim.

The calltaker asked a series of question to identify the caller as the victim, which Evans answered.

Evans couldn't provide the victim's current home address, but gave the calltaker a number of the victim's previous addresses. The calltaker was convinced the man on the phone was the victim, Judge Ronayne said.

"Winz is also the victim here," he said.

Evans was asking questions about the victim's benefit, and asked for a break-down of the benefit to be posted to him and for the call taker to give him the address he had for the victim.

The calltaker was alerted that something could be amiss when Evans abruptly hung up on the call and told his manager.

His manager listened back to the recording of the interview and compared it with other calls with the victim, then phoned police, who traced the call to Evans.

Defence lawyer John Kovacevich said Evans was remorseful for what he had done, and admitted to the offending at the first opportunity.

Judge Ronayne acknowledged Evans' early guilty plea when handing down his sentence.

The chairman of the New Zealand Institute of Private Investigators [NZIPI] Ron McQuilter said Evans was not a member of the industry authority.

"It's unfortunate that anyone can apply to be a licensed private investigator... there's no actual actual requirement in the act to put forward qualifications or previous experience [to gain a licence].

"We can't stop them being licensed but that's why having a code of ethics and being part of the Institute does give the client some comfort."

Mr McQuilter said private investigators must apply be part of the NZIPI and were screened by the committee before being accepted.

Complaints were brought before a complaints committee to be investigated.

- APNZ

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