Posted on 28 Nov 2011
Four people in the Philippines hacked into the accounts of AT&T business customers in the United States and diverted money to a group that financed terrorist attacks across Asia, according to police officials in the Philippines.
A statement from the Philippines Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, a law enforcement agency, said three men and one woman had been arrested in raids across the capital, Manila, last week.
According to the agency, the men were working with a group called Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda and responsible for the 2002 bombings in Bali, which killed 202 people.
The group has been held responsible for several other terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia, mostly in Indonesia but including the Philippines.
If the new accusation holds up, it would point to a troubling connection between hackers and terrorist cells.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Saturday that it was working with the police in the Philippines on the investigation into the telephone hacking effort, which apparently began as early as 2009.
The suspects remotely gained access to the telephone operating systems of an unspecified number of AT&T clients and used them to call telephone numbers that passed on revenues to the suspects.
AT&T said it reimbursed its customers for the charges. It said in a statement that “its network were neither targeted nor breached by the hackers.”
The company declined to say how many business customers were affected, nor how much it cost AT&T. The Philippines police agency’s statement said the scheme cost $2 million. It is known as a “remote toll fraud” and singles out telephone accounts that are protected by weak passwords.