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Man Gets 10 Years For VoIP Hacking 149

Posted by timothy
from the just-think-what-that-is-in-minutes dept.
angry tapir writes "A US court has sentenced a Venezuelan man to 10 years in prison for stealing and then reselling more than 10 million minutes of Internet phone service. Edwin Pena, 27, was convicted in February of masterminding a scheme to hack into more than 15 telecommunications companies and then reroute calls to their networks at no charge. He must also pay more than US$1 million in restitution, and will be deported once his sentence is served."
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Man Gets 10 Years For VoIP Hacking

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  • Free calls (Score:5, Funny)

    by fvandrog (899507) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:12AM (#33709702)
    Free calls for all US prisoners shortly.
  • by ProdigyPuNk (614140) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:13AM (#33709704) Journal

    Pena is the first person to be charged by U.S. authorities with VoIP hacking, but he almost avoided prosecution. He skipped bail after his arrest, and was only captured after his Mexican girlfriend turned him in in early 2009.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. NEVER, EVER let your girlfriend know what is going on if you are commiting crimes/running from the law/etc. It gets you in trouble every time.

    • by delinear (991444) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:19AM (#33709742)

      I've said it before and I'll say it again. NEVER, EVER let your girlfriend know what is going on. It gets you in trouble every time.

      FTFY

      • >>>NEVER, EVER let your girlfriend know what is going on. It gets you in trouble every time.

        Or you could just stay single, and refuse to hang-out with domineering women. Sure compromise is good but what difference does it make whether I take the trash out "RIGHT NOW honey!" or if I wait until tomorrow morning as I'm headed-out to work? None.

        But yeah..... stupid to commit a crime and then talk about it.
        At least wait until the statute of limitation have run out and THEN brag about it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Vanderhoth (1582661)

          Sure compromise is good but what difference does it make whether I take the trash out "RIGHT NOW honey!" or if I wait until tomorrow morning as I'm headed-out to work?

          The difference is if I take it out "Right Now honey!", she can clean up the mess the raccoons, stray dogs and crows make of it over night.

          That gets me out of having to take it out until the next morning.

          Normally my wife and I don't argue about stuff, but when she becomes overly insistent something needs to be done right away, or in a very specific way, I'll either give her the yes dear and do it my way anyway or I'll do it her way and make her deal with the consequences. Sometimes she's right and I'm w

          • And if she's wrong - well - you needed that raccoon suit anyway.

          • >>>overly insistent something needs to be done right away, or in a very specific way.....

            I would first ask her "why" it has to be done immediately. If she still keep insisting, I'd tell her I already have one boss at work and don't need another at home, and if she continues in this fashion of treating me like an idiot and/or child, then I will file divorce papers later this week.

            Better to be single and happy, than married and miserable.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Vanderhoth (1582661)
              Better to be married, having regular sex and be happy then to be single and happy. :)

              My wife is very good to me for the most part. Sometimes she does get on my nerves when she pesters me to get things done and I wish she'd spend more time doing whatever it is she's spending the time insisting I need to do, but for the most part she gives me time to do my own thing, and really is only asking/reminding me to do my part. I get distracted and often put off doing chores so I can program, draw, work on a 3D mod
              • Better to be married, having regular sex and be happy then to be single and happy. :)

                Yeah, but that's a contradiction. Everyone knows sex grinds to a halt once the marriage license is signed. :)

              • >>>My wife is my best friend, she's hot, I enjoy her company and the sex is great...

                Fast forward 10-20 years and this will become, "My wife used to be my best friend but now she's constantly grumpy, she's no longer hot (she's fat), and we haven't had sex in a year..."

                As for sex: (1) it often stops being fun when the wife is demanding it after you just worked a 12 hour day and not in the mood, and (2) single people do have regular sex - remember college?

                • >>>My wife is my best friend, she's hot, I enjoy her company and the sex is great...

                  Fast forward 10-20 years and this will become, "My wife used to be my best friend but now she's constantly grumpy, she's no longer hot (she's fat), and we haven't had sex in a year..."

                  I've already been with her for 8 years. So do we fast forward 2-12 years, or will it still be 10-20? I guess it really doesn't matter, women will age the same whether their married or not. For that matter so will men and you and me by extension. Maybe my wife won't be as good looking in 20 years as she is now, but neither will I. I'd rather be developing a long term relationship so I have someone to be with when I'm in my 80's then to be in my 80's, lonely and still trying to chase after 20 year olds.

                  As for sex: (1) it often stops being fun when the wife is demanding it after you just worked a 12 hour day and not in the mood, and (2) single people do have regular sex - remember college?

                  I reme

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Most slashdotters won't ever be in that situation. (They never commit any crimes)
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by bwintx (813768)

        Most slashdotters won't ever be in that situation. (They never have any girlfriends.)

        FTFY

    • by houghi (78078)

      Also never explain the plan just before you kill somebody. And if you have a secret hidaway. Pay more at people helping you with a plan and less on design.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:13AM (#33709708)
    Spend money 'punishing' him and then immediately deport him. Rehabilitation seems to have no meaning there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ProdigyPuNk (614140)
      There's millions of people that WANT to be in this country. Why would we want to keep those whom have already shown themselves to be criminals?
      • by CrashandDie (1114135) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:31AM (#33709782)

        Then why bother spending some $800k on him in the first place if he's not wanted? So the next country gets a nice guy? Yeah. Right.

        Either give him a few years and make a good citizen out of him, or kick him out of the country. Doing both is just plain stupid.

        • by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:51AM (#33709920)
          Maybe because "Come to our country, commit crimes, and simply get asked nicely to leave" isn't a sign we're interested in putting up? It's called a penal system for a reason. Rehabilitation has always been a tertiary goal behind punishment and deterrence. That doesn't mean it's not important, but you're acting like it's the entire point of a prison sentence, which it absolutely is not.
          • It should be, if not prison is wasting our time. If after 10 years someone gets out and hasn't at least been given some sort of rehabilitation then those 10 years were wasted. That person will have no chance to work and move on. I'm not saying jail should be an easy ride, but they should be working on getting these people to be able to get a life after jail.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by kevinNCSU (1531307)

              A tertiary goal is still a goal. Like I said, it not that rehabilitation isn't important it's just not the entire point of a prison sentence. The GP I'm arguing with says we should just let the criminal go free since we're not going to keep him in our society. If the only point of prison was rehabilitation this would make sense. But punishment and deterrence have always been a factor is sentencing and as far as I'm concerned it should be.

              The fact that you don't want jail to be an "easy ride" makes me th

          • by Solandri (704621)
            And for people outside the U.S., if a criminal in another country is found guilty of committing a crime, do you really just want him deported to your country where he can run around free to do whatever he wants? I don't exactly agree with the magnitude of the sentence in this case, but the U.S. had a moral obligation to lock the guy up to protect not just Americans but people in the rest of the world from him.
          • by BitterOak (537666)

            Rehabilitation has always been a tertiary goal behind punishment and deterrence.

            Who says? First of all, saying that punishment is the main reason for punishment is a circular statement. Certainly deterrence is a goal as well as rehabilitation, but I'm not sure that all would place those two in the same order that you do.

        • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:56AM (#33709950)

          If you just kick him out then you've created a whole army of criminals.

          Someone needs killin', get a Mexican or Canadian across the border and have them kill them. If they gets caught they just gets sent home anyway - to sneak back across next time you need someone offed.

          Foreigners should get a free try at robbing Americans blind, if they get away with it then they are rich. If they get caught they just get sent home just as if they never tried in the first place.

          The prison system is not all about rehabilitation - there are at least three other components:

          1. Keeping dangerous people away from society at large - clearly not an issue here since deporting does the same thing.

          2. Deterring other people from doing the same thing by showing them the potential consequences - this clearly does apply here.

          3. Retribution - just plain punishing the criminal for the sake of punishing them.

          Different places have different emphasises on each element. Some leave some out entirely.

          • Well, I've seen deported people end up serving their sentence in their native country. Maybe that would be a better way to handle it.
            • by puto (533470)
              And where have you seen this? Because laws aren't excactly interchangeable between countries. I sure wish I could commit some heinous crime in the states, and serve my time here in Colombia, where I get hookers, blow, cable tv, and just about anything I want. Deported people end up serving sentences for crimes they were guilty and convicvted of in their own countries when they are returned to them.
            • So if someone commits a crime in a foreign country, it is entirely up to his home country to pay for locking him up for something he did somewhere else? Yeah, that is pretty sound logic. I am sure that system would work out just great. Let's start by sending those Somali pirates back to Somalia. I am sure Somalia is willing to lock them up and pay for all of it.
          • I'll reply to you, but the same is valid for most people who've replied to my comment:

            It's interesting to see that all of you up to this point have concentrated on the fact of kicking him out of the country only. Why?

            The whole point of the pentitentiary system is to try and get people to behave correctly, right? Well, to punish them too, but so that they "pay their debt to society". But which society are we talking about? The US or the country he'll end up in? The guy knows that he is going to be kicked out

            • by nedlohs (1335013)

              You don't let him stay because he now has a criminal history, and statistically has a much higher chance of commiting a crime in the future than someone without such a history.

              Since he didn't live up to his half of the visa agreement (don't commit any felonies being part of it) booting him is the obvious choice. There are plenty of other smart people to replace him.

              So he not only committed whatever the crime was, he also failed to live up to his visa requirements.

              Do you really think he should continue to oc

        • by alen (225700)

          in the US we have something called the rule of law and due process. that means if the law says you can't get kicked out just because someone thinks you did something bad, you have to be convicted after a trial

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by c6gunner (950153)

            That's wrong - deportations usually involve hearings, but not always, and they usually don't involve convictions.

          • by shakah (78118)

            in the US we have something called the rule of law and due process. that means if the law says you can't get kicked out just because someone thinks you did something bad, you have to be convicted after a trial.

            Are you sure about that [salon.com]?

            We all know about the recent case of the Canadian man who was suspected of terrorist connections, detained in New York, sent to Syria--through a rendition agreement--tortured, only to find out later it was all a case of mistaken identity and poor information...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by giorgist (1208992)
          What about ... let that be a lesson to all you from overseas. Otherwise ... why woudl you not cross the border and comit a crime ?
          You have nothing to worry about, they will just deport you
        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          Either give him a few years and make a good citizen out of him, or kick him out of the country.

          Prison doesn't make "good citizens". It is, however, very effective for making better criminals.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:46AM (#33709876) Journal

      Do you think the EU would have handled it any differently? I don't. They deport people all the time.

      I think the sentence is okay but excessive. 10 million minutes times 0.01 per minute (wholsesale) == $100,000 damage to the company. Ten years for stealing such a small amount of money is ridiculous, as is the extra 1 million fine on top of it. The CEOs stole 1,000,000 times that amount from US taxpayers and get no punishment.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by petermgreen (876956)

        Really without knowing where the calls were going to it's not really possible to put a figure on the damage. If it's geographic numbers in the USA your figure is probbablly about right, if it's mobiles in caller pays countries it could easilly be ten time higher and if it's premium rate numbers, satphones or shithole countries it could be much higher still.

    • by umghhh (965931)
      rehabilitation is only one aspect of justice system. There are others - making punishment as close to unavoidable as possible for instance makes future criminals think twice. This mechanism works quite well actually. Look at NK or Iran or any other great warrior for human rights etc for an example.
    • by SethJohnson (112166) on Monday September 27, 2010 @11:21AM (#33711734) Homepage Journal
      Prison has many purposes in our society.

      1) retribution: basically, punishment. The prisoner is paying his debt to society. This also acts as a catharsis for the prisoner himself.
      2) specific deterrence: The prisoner will think twice about committing another crime.
      3) general deterrence: others will think twice about committing crime when they see others being jailed for it.
      4) rehabilitation: so the prisoner can change his ways. Maybe he will learn skill for the outside world so that he need not turn to crime again.
      5) utilitarian: somply to keep the prisoner from committing more crimes.

      In this case, 2,3, and to some extent, 5 applies.

      Seth
      • in order of importance, 2, 4, 5, 3 & 1

      • by BitterOak (537666)
        2-5, I can agree with, but your point 1 has some serious problems:

        1) retribution: basically, punishment. The prisoner is paying his debt to society. This also acts as a catharsis for the prisoner himself.

        There are three parts here, so lets deal with them one at a time. First, Saying that the reason we punish is for punishment is a circular statement. The word "retribution", which you also use, is more descriptive, but is really a nice word for "revenge".

        As to your second point, a prisoner is only repaying their debt to society if they are doing useful work in prison which more than offsets the cost to incarcerate them, which isn't even appr

  • Nothing really to see here. move along.

    • by CrashandDie (1114135) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:34AM (#33709800)

      Except for the fact that the US judiciary system fails, once again? Not only are they spending a few hundred thousand dollars on making him pay in prison, his sentence his heftier than what a good bunch of rapists and cold blooded murderers would get, but after the supposed rehabilitation process, they're kicking him out of the country.

      Being blind doesn't mean there's nothing to see, it just means there's something wrong with the way you see things.

      • Rapists are unlikely to be able to provide IT support in the 'Big House'. If he can score some free VOIP time whilst he is there, it can save a packet for the prison services.
  • by danking (1201931) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:15AM (#33709718)
    The one thing I don't understand is why have him actually serve his sentence? Doesn't this just cost people more money in the end. It may be worth while to have him stay until he has re-payed the $1 million, assuming he even has the ability to re-pay the money but why not just deport him right away.
    • A bit like nursing a person back to full health, just to hang them. Of course it costs more money; but that money does go towards a lot of jobs. It's fake economy employment money.
      • >>>A bit like nursing a person back to full health, just to hang them..... that money does go towards a lot of jobs

        You mean like smashing windows to create jobs.

    • by delinear (991444) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:27AM (#33709768)
      Well jail time is theoretically about rehabilitation, but in practice it's about deterrence. It wouldn't deter anyone from following in his footsteps if he was sent home without serving jail time (I think the $1m repayment part is just wishful thinking). Mind you, how do you rehabilitate someone whose crime is purely financial in a society that's largely focused on the pursuit of money, or prevent others copying him? In that case his "crime" was merely being caught, and every criminal assumes he's smarter than the last guy and won't get caught, so the effectiveness of such a sentence even as a deterent is doubtful.
      • by umghhh (965931)
        Just where did you get this idea that isolation is only about rehabilitation? It has always the deterrence effect even if not always strong enough.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Just where did you get this idea that isolation is only about rehabilitation? It has always the deterrence effect even if not always strong enough.

          We have had prisons for many years, yet people still commit crimes. Clearly it is not strong enough. Of course, there is an applicable saying... share our wealth with us, or we will share our poverty with you. The people running the telecoms he's stealing with are probably sleeping on a big bed of money. The average income in Mexico isn't worth digging out of the couch cushions in this country. No one should be surprised when this sort of thing occurs when some people waste more than some other people live

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by petermgreen (876956)

            We have had prisons for many years, yet people still commit crimes
            True enough but the real and largely unanswerable questions are

            1:How many more would commit crimes if there were no consequences to doing so?
            2:Is locking people up the best type of consequence to use for deterrance purposes?

      • by sjames (1099)

        Based on financial crimes committed and the punishment doled out, I'd say his mistake was thinking too small. Had he done a trillion dollars worth of damage to the economy, through the Federally approved derivatives fraud, he could have actually gotten a handout from the government.

    • The one thing I don't understand is why have him actually serve his sentence? Doesn't this just cost people more money in the end.

      It may be that Slashdot has made me cynical.

      But always seems to come as a surprise to the geek when one of his own is sentenced to do hard time.

      Ten years is meant to hurt.

      To teach a lesson.

      To warn others like you not to take this path.

      In the American federal system, economic and property crimes with an interstate dimension are a federal responsibility - and they are never taken

    • Why not deport him right away? Because if we did that would essentially be putting a sign that says "come to the US and commit a crime - and get off scot free if even if found guilty." This time it was phone minutes, what might it be next time?

  • Headline (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jra (5600) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:18AM (#33709732)

    "Man gets 10 years for felony commercial theft of service".

    There. FTFY.

    No hacking involved here; nothing to see; move along.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:28AM (#33709774) Journal

      "Man gets 10 years for felony commercial theft of service".

      I believe the actual charges were one count of computer fraud and one count of wire fraud [wikipedia.org]. Which has a pretty serious maximum punishment.

      There. FTFY.

      No hacking involved here; nothing to see; move along.

      Well, I don't know if I'd agree there was no hacking involved. It sounds like he used someone in Washington state named Moore to run port scans on all the big routers for VoIP hardware. Moore (serving two years) would then brute force attack these routers for login information. Pena dumped Moore twenty large and then acted as a salesman. After selling the phone service, Pena would reprogram the vulnerable networks so they would accept his rogue telephone traffic. Pena didn't seem to do much hacking, Moore was apparently just a brute force hacker that preyed on stupid VoIP companies who used four number prefixes as passwords.

      I think the general public considers port scanning and brute force attacks to be hacking. At least the news reports it as such.

      • Que PENA Amigo! (Score:2, Interesting)

        by xtracto (837672)

        Well "Es Una Pena" (it is a SHAME) that he committed such a crime, but it is also shameful that none of the several articles mention his real last name which is PEÑA (with an Ñ).

        let's see how /. copes with that... *click preview*

        It seems ok..

      • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:57AM (#33711280) Journal

        I think the general public considers port scanning and brute force attacks to be hacking. At least the news reports it as such.

        You wouldn't?

        I mean it's the most surefire way to get into a system. May take a while but if you can set up an attack that no one notices, you've got all the time in the world to go work your job, spend time with the wife, work up that Alabi, etc etc.

        People have considered much less to be hacking. Some think that when you use social engineering to discover the answer to someone's secret question to access their twitter account that it's hacking... At least a port scan is something you wouldn't know about if you didn't at least have a basic understanding of how computer networks work.

        • I think the general public considers port scanning and brute force attacks to be hacking. At least the news reports it as such.

          You wouldn't?

          Of course not, because this isn't a criminal that Slashdot can find some way to glorify. Do the same thing to DoD computers, and you'll be a hero here.

    • by t0p (1154575)

      Unless you refute the idea of "theft of service". His "victims" claim he cost them $1.4 million. How did they lose out? Because he sold bandwidth that they weren't even using at the time?

      And this $1 million "restitution" he's supposed to pay. WTF? Sad world, people. Sad world.

      • What you really pay for with a telco is for them to keep sufficiantly above the average use that the chance of failing to get through due to overuse is kept very low. If the average use goes up then the amount of capacity that needs to be provisioned to maintain a reliable service also goes up.

        Plus it is very likely the victims will have had to pay other telcos to pass those calls on to thier destinations. This could easilly run to a lot of money depending on the destinations called (IIRC there are some des

  • sounds fair (Score:3, Funny)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday September 27, 2010 @09:15AM (#33710140)

    that's only like ~30 seconds in jail for each minute of phone service he stole. At least they didn't sentence him to full price.

  • Why not make him pay the money back, then deport him.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing for money.

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