VOIP Hacker Gets 10 Years in Prison for Scam

A 27-year-old man charged with hacking into the networks of VOIP providers and reselling more than 10 million minutes of Internet phone service receives a 10-year sentence.

A man federal authorities said is the first person to be charged with hacking voice-over-IP providers and reselling hacked VOIP services was handed a 10-year prison sentence Sept. 24.

The sentencing of Edwin Andres Pena, 27, in federal court in Newark, N.J., followed a three-year chase that took authorities from the United States to Central and South America. Pena fled after his arrest in 2006, and was extradited back to the United States from Mexico in February of 2009, authorities said. On Feb. 3, 2010, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.

"Theft is theft whether you rob a bank or hack into somebody else's network and steal their services," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement. "Hackers attacking new and emerging technologies should not assume that law enforcement cannot keep up with them, even when they operate from the shadows or from other countries."

Pena masterminded a scheme to defraud VOIP service providers by posing as a legitimate wholesaler of Internet-based phone services and selling discounted service plans. According to authorities, he was able to offer such low prices is because he would secretly hack into the computer networks of VOIP providers and route his customers' calls.

In this way, Pena sold more than 10 million minutes of Internet phone service to his unsuspecting customers, causing a loss of more than $1.4 million in less than a year. Among his victims was a Newark-based company that transmits VOIP services for other telecommunications businesses and was billed for more than 500,000 unauthorized telephone calls.

Pena also enlisted the help of others, including Robert Moore of Spokane, Wash. Moore was sentenced to 24 months for his role in the scheme, in which he performed scans of computer networks to find vulnerable ports so the networks could be infiltrated and used to route calls, authorities said.

In addition to the prison term, Pena was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to be deported following the conclusion of his sentence since he is a Venezuelan citizen. Pena was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,012,311.