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10 million minutes hijacked

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A Venezuelan citizen on Friday was sentenced to 10 years in US federal prison for hacking into the networks of telecommunications companies and then routing millions of minutes of voice over IP calls over their systems.

Edwin Andres Pena, 27, admitted in February that he pocketed more than $1m in the scam, in which he posed as a legitimate reseller of long-distance calling services. By scanning networks of AT&T and other companies, Pena was able to identify unprotected ports through which he could transmit more than 10 million minutes of unauthorized calls.

Pena, who spent much of his time in Miami, was described as the mastermind behind the operation. For technical help in identifying vulnerable networks, he turned to a Spokane, Washington, hacker named Robert Moore. He was previously sentenced to two years in prison for his role, which included performing more than 6 million scans on AT&T's network alone over a five-month span in 2005.

Following the arrest of the two men in 2006, Pena fled the US and engaged authorities in a manhunt through South and Central America. Agents finally apprehended him in Mexico in 2009.

Prosecutors reckon that Pena's scheme caused a loss of $1.4m in less than a year. One of the targeted companies – which was based in Newark, New Jersey, where the case was prosecuted – was billed for more than 500,000 unauthorized telephone calls that Pena routed through its network.

In addition to his 120-month prison sentence, Pena was ordered to pay restitution of a little more than $1m. He will also be deported once he completes his time. Pena has already surrendered a large number of luxury items that were purchased using the ill-gotten profits, including a 40-foot motor boat and a 2004 BMW M3. ®

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