RESIDENTS of Oxfordshire may have been puzzled recently by notices to ‘buy an identity’ in the windows of their local newsagents.

Among the usual notices of old TVs and prams being sold, one man has decided to sell something a little more valuable.

The cards were placed in 10 newsagents across the county, including shops in Iffley Road, Oxford, and Woodstock.

They offer people the chance to bid for a person’s whole identity.

But police have condemned it as potentially dangerous.

Last night they had launched an investigation.

They have now been traced back to 45-year-old Preston Likely, a print worker from Littlemore.

He said: “I have decided to sell my entire identity – my passport number, my credit card number, share dealing numbers, birth certificate – anything with personal information and numbers on.

“I needed to raise money for my dad’s operation and I’ve got mortgage payments and bills coming out – it’s just money I don’t have any more.

“I was cutting up my credit cards in the bin one day and got the idea to do this.”

Since the notices were first placed in newsagents last Wednesday, the married father-of-one has had offers ranging from £10 to £1,000.

He said: “But is that a lot? It raises questions about how much a person is worth – I don’t think I’ll sell for anything less than £10,000.

“I want to ask ‘are we even allowed to sell our identity?’ ‘Does it belong to us?’”

Many of the notices have been taken down by newsagents.

Mr Likely, whose father needs a hip operation, said: “I might not be the only one selling my identity. People are being backed into a corner in these hard times.”

Police spokesman Rebecca Webber said: “Anyone selling their personal documents or identification numbers must be aware that they may be used for fraudulent purposes.

“This could be considered an attempted fraud in that the seller is willing for others to use his name and credit cards for a dishonest purpose whilst pretending to be him, for a fee.

“The information about this incident has been passed to our Police Enquiry Centre to investigate further to ascertain whether any offences have been committed.”

A Identity and Passport Service spokesman said: “Any action which could assist fraudulent activity is a serious offence and may lead to prosecution.”