Four arrested after compromising phones to fund terror group. Image: AT&T.
According to the FBI and authorities in the Philippines, four people have been arrested in connection to a scam, which involved cracking the phone systems of AT&T customers, and using that access to call premium numbers. The funds collected were then shifted to another group that is linked to terrorism.
The Philippines Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said on Saturday that thee men and one woman were arrested last week, and stand accused of hacking into the systems maintained by business customers of AT&T. AT&T itself is not a victim, rather the three men accessed the accounts and dialed toll collecting numbers.
The numbers charged high rates, and the men forcing the calls controlled the money collected. They would then shift the ill-gotten funds to a group called Jemaah Islamiyah, who is tied to the Bali bombings in 2002, which killed more than 200 people. In addition, the terror group has also been linked to al-Qaida. The CIDG did not mention what role the woman played in the plot.
The FBI confirmed that they were involved with the investigation, and helped the Philippine agency build their case. The systematic attacks on the phone systems have allegedly been in operation since 1999.
AT&T for their part took care of their victimized customers by refunding the malicious charges. In a statement, the company stressed that their network was not breached during the attacks. While AT&T did not mention their total cost, the remote toll scam was reported to have cost them $2 million according to the CIDG.