The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has pressed official charges against three Florida men accused of hijacking the phone numbers of multiple US citizens and using their numbers to place international calls for the benefit of their own call termination businesses.
The three defendants are Ramon Batista, aka Porfirio, 49, of Orlando, Florida; Edwin Fana, 36, of Miami Gardens, Florida; and Jose Santana, aka Octavio Perez, 52, of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, who surrendered to police or were arrested prior to last week, when they first appeared in court.
Authorities accused the three of opening new cell phone accounts with the stolen data of US citizens.
According to the indictment, the three have then used these new cell phone accounts to reroute a large number of international phone calls to countries such as Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and others.
Officials said that the three used these hijacked phone numbers, reprogrammed cell phones, and other hardware equipment to run an illegal call termination business that routed phone calls from telephony providers and VoIP services to the above-mentioned countries.
All the underlying costs of their illegal business fell on the citizens whose identities were stolen and had started to receive bills.
Mobile operators were forced to cancel the bills, but they also notified the FBI, who launched an investigation into these mysterious identity thefts.
Each suspect was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; access device fraud; the use, production or possession of modified telecommunications instruments; the use or possession of hardware or software configured to obtain telecommunications services; wire fraud; and aggravated identity theft.