Phone Hacking Ring Linked to Al Qaeda

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U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer recently announced that a phone hacking ring with possible connections to Al Qaeda has cost several New York small businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars. A single dry cleaning company, Best Cleaners, faces charges of almost $150,000.

"Schumer said hackers were manipulating businesses' voicemail systems to make thousands of costly long-distance calls overseas, leaving New York businesses on the hook for the substantial bills," writes Government Security News' Mark Rockwell. "He told local reporters that phone numbers compromised in Syracuse are being connected to phones that are known to be linked to the terror organization in Somalia and the Philippines. Schumer speculated the operation may be a revenue-generator for Al Qaeda, or a way to communicate with inconspicuous numbers."

"Already, dozens of New York small businesses have fallen prey to these hackers through their voicemail systems, and are often forced to cover the cost for weeks-worth of overseas calls," Schumer said in a statement. "The telecom industry and the Federal Communications Commission must do more to detect these fraudsters, to stop or prevent the deceptive charges as quickly as possible, and to protect small business owners from the financial impact."

"Current FCC regulations let telecommunications companies hold business customers responsible for the cost of calls even when there is evidence the calls resulted from hackers gaining access to the customers' phone lines, Schumer said," writes The Syracuse Post-Standard's Jim O'Hara. "That doesn’t happen when someone fraudulently uses a victim’s credit card and Schumer said he wants telecommunications companies to handle fraud in a way similar way."