Venezuelan VoIP hacker caught, back in court Friday

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A Venezuelan man, charged with orchestrating a scheme to defraud voice over internet protocol (VoIP) providers, was scheduled to be arraigned Friday in a New Jersey federal court.

Edwin Pena, 26, of Venezuela was arrested in 2006 on 20 charges, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and hacking. He allegedly committed these crimes, which netted him approximately $1 million, between 2004 to 2006. After his arrest, he posted bail and was released.

He then appeared before a New Jersey court, but fled the country to avoid prosecution, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Last February, Pena was arrested in Mexico. He was extradited to the United States and is scheduled to arrive in Newark, N.J. on Friday in the custody of the FBI, prosecutors said Thursday in a news release.

“This extradition represents the continued success of the United States in working with foreign countries to bring alleged cybercriminals to justice,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement. “No one should feel free and comfortable from prosecution or detection merely by being in another country.”

Pena operated two companies that offered wholesale internet-based phone services to other telecommunications companies, according to a criminal complaint and indictment. He sold millions of hours of wholesale VoIP service for heavily discounted rates – sometimes as low as four-tenths of a cent per minute – to other telecommunications companies.

Instead of purchasing VoIP routes to resell, Pena hacked into the networks of legitimate VoIP service providers and routed his customer's traffic through the hacked networks, prosecutors said. To infiltrate the networks, Pena used usernames and passwords obtained from Robert Moore, a hacker in Washington. In 2007, Moore pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud for his role in the scheme and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Pena's scheme resulted in more than $1.4 million in damages, according to prosecutors. One New Jersey-based VoIP provider Pena defrauded incurred $500,000 in charges for the call traffic that was routed through its network.

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