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Crime The Courts Your Rights Online

New Hampshire Man Sentenced To 7 Years For Robo-Calling Malware 160

alphadogg writes with this excerpt from Network World: "A New Hampshire man who made $8 million by installing unwanted dial-up software on computers and then forcing them to call expensive premium telephone numbers was handed down an 82-month sentence this week. Prosecutors say that between 2003 and 2007, Asu Pala and others put together a lucrative business by setting up premium telephone numbers in Germany — similar to the 1-900 numbers used in the US — and then infecting German PCs with software that would automatically dial the numbers for short periods of time." Do that many people still have modems attached?
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New Hampshire Man Sentenced To 7 Years For Robo-Calling Malware

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @12:36AM (#35354292)

    He was also fined 7.9 Million USD and owes 2.2 Million in back taxes.

    Not exactly the typical getting off with a slap on the wrist...

  • by shadowofwind ( 1209890 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @01:29AM (#35354502)

    Because if we start forcing people to work to pay for their crimes, before long it morphs into a slave program with people being convicted on bogus charges for the sake of their labor. This has been tried in parts of the US in the past, and it has been a problem. The people who control the system don't have close to enough integrity to stand that kind of conflict of interest.

  • Do that many people still have modems attached?

    Yes. While DSL, UMTS and DOCSIS are quite common in urban areas, there are still several areas (villages) where dual-channel ISDN is the fastest way to get into the net (2x 64 kBit/s), and many people in those areas still use analog modems (V.90) simply because ISDN lines have a higher monthly fee and dual channel ISDN doubles the costs of each internet connection.

    Of course, there is also satellite internet access, but it is expensive, overloaded, slow (despite opposite claims of the operators) and has a high latency. Plus, you need a free line of sight to the satellite and the permission to install a(n additional) satellite dish from the owner of the house. LTE is the latest promise for fast internet access in non-urban areas, following WiMAX. WiMAX exists only in prototype areas, it still is not commonly available in Germany. LTE is only planned, no prototype area exists, and despite legal restraints to install LTE first in areas without high speed internet connections, the first prototype areas will be big cities.

    Another reason to use a modem is the ability to send and receive faxes, as others already posted.

    Costs for 0900 calls are very high compared to other numbers, and the 0900 owner can define how much is charged. There are two mutually exclusive limits: Either max. 3.00 EUR per minute, or max. 10.00 EUR per call independantly from the length of the call. (Source: []) So if you use the second option (charge 10.00 EUR per call) and distribute a dialer that makes one-second calls to your 0900 number, you gain 10.00 EUR per second and call. Gaining 8,000,000 EUR (roughly approximating 1 EUR = 1 $) requires 800,000 calls. If you can make 10 calls before getting caught by the modem owner, you need only 80,000 users. If you can make 100 calls before getting caught, you need just 8,000 users.

    ISDN users are even more attractive than modem users. The V.90 handshake needs about 10 to 20 seconds, and it is noisy due to the modem speaker. Plus, the V.90 modem blocks the phone line. So it is very likely that the dialer is found very fast. The ISDN handshake takes much less time, about a second, it is silent, and ISDN offers two lines, so you can still use your phone while your computer is busy wasting your money with one second calls to a 0900 line. If that goes unnoticed for one hour, and each call lasts four seconds total, you have 900 calls from one user, 9,000 EUR. Trick just 900 users into using your dialler for one hour on an ISDN line and you gain 8,100,000 EUR.


Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian