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Fugitive VoIP hacker admits 10 million minute spree

When revenue is profit

Security for virtualized datacentres

A Miami hacker has admitted he pocketed more than $1m by selling millions of minutes of voice over IP calls and surreptitiously routing them through the networks of telecommunications companies.

Edwin Andrew Pena pleaded guilty to two felonies in connection with the hacking spree, which spanned the years 2004 through 2006, according to court documents. He was apprehended last year in Mexico after skipping out on a $100,000 bond secured by the mother of his then girlfriend.

Pena appeared in US District Court in New Jersey on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and unauthorized access to a protected computer. He faces a maximum of 25 years in federal prison and fines of at least $500,000 at sentencing, which is scheduled for May 14.

Pena and cohort Robert Moore were arrested in June 2006 and accused of carrying out an elaborate scheme that routed more than 10 million minutes of VoIP calls over the networks of a dozen or so telecommunications providers without their permission. They breached the networks by using brute-force attacks that deduced the security telephone prefixes needed to gain access.

To disguise the source of the attacks, the pair rerouted them through the computers of third parties. From June 2005 to the following October, Moore used a single AT&T broadband account to perform more than 6 million scans that looked for vulnerable machines, prosecutors said.

Because the scheme piggybacked off the resources of others, virtually all the revenue was profit. As a result, Pena was able to sell long-distance calls for as low as four-tenths of a cent per minute, a fraction of what legitimate providers charged.

Pena laundered the proceeds through several bank accounts and also spent lavishly on Miami real estate, a 40-foot Sea Ray Mercruiser boat, a 2004 BMW M3 and several other luxury vehicles, prosecutors said.

Pena, who changed his name after going on the lam, paid Moore the princely sum of $20,000 for his services.

Moore was sentenced to a two-year prison term after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud. He was released last year. ®

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