Following reports on Wednesday that British police had arrested a 19-year-old suspect thought to be the spokesperson of notorious hacker group “LulzSec,” new information suggests authorities may have been duped into arresting an innocent man. According to DailyTech, a hacker by the name of “The Jester” has discovered and published chat logs that suggest “Topiary,” the hacker reportedly arrested by authorities on Wednesday, is still at large. According to the exposed chat, Sweden-born Daniel Ackerman Sandberg — the alleged real LulzSec spokesperson — recently assumed the online identity of another man in an effort to mislead authorities. Sandberg, who has reportedly changed his name numerous times, is also said to have been caught on video speaking Swedish, further suggesting that the Scottish man arrested Wednesday by British authorities was not in fact LulzSec’s spokesperson. The full alleged chat logs between Sandberg and an anonymous second party can be read below (emphasis applied by DailyTech). More →
Charges have been filed by federal prosecutors in Seattle against a Microsoft employee accused of wire fraud. Robert D. Curry was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with stealing $515,000 from Microsoft using a series of wire transfers sent from Microsoft to Curry’s bank account. According to Curry, the transfers were payments for services rendered but prosecutors contend that Curry provided no such services. According to the charges, Curry created a shell company and used one of Microsoft’s vendors, which was unaware of Curry’s actions, to funnel money into his account between April and November last year. The FBI claims Curry collected a series of fraudulent payments from Microsoft, having misled the company by claiming the payments were being made to Microsoft vendor Pentad Solutions. Prosecutors say Curry used the stolen funds to pay for high-end audio equipment, credit card bills and a ski vacation. More →
Apple once again finds itself the target of criminal activity, though this time the scheme is slightly more elaborate than a small-time smash and grab job. According to court documents filed in the state of New York, dozens of suspects have been charged in association with using thousands of stolen credit card numbers to purchase products from Apple Store locations across the country. The group made fake credit cards with stolen credit card numbers and then used them to purchase Apple laptops, iPhones, iPods and other Apple products. The group’s leader, 28-year-old Shaheed Bilal, allegedly continued to orchestrate the entire operation even while incarcerated from May through December of last year. Bilal had thousands of stolen credit card numbers in his possession and even boasted on Twitter about using stolen cards at restaurants. Records of Bilal’s tweets were referenced by prosecutors at his arraignment on Tuesday. The Apple Store scheme began in May 2009, and the group reportedly purchased over $1 million worth of Apple products using the stolen card numbers. 27 suspects have been charged so far. More →
While the debate over domestic data limits — 2GB versus 5GB versus truly unlimited — continues, another, more controversial smartphone bandwidth topic is slowly coming to a boil: international data. For those of you who frequently venture out of the confines of these United States, you know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t yet made your way out of the country in the smartphone era, you’re in for a rude awakening. Exorbitant costs, pathetic data allowances, and little recourse… it wasn’t always as bad as it is now. But, like all things in the cellular industry these days, carriers seem to be charging more for less. Are you the kind of person who always has your passport and smartphone with you when you travel abroad? Are you sick of being raked over the coals? Read on for our thoughts. More →
A complaint has been filed in a federal court in California alleging that AT&T regularly and purposely overcharges iPhone and iPad customers on capped data plans by inflating the amount of data they download to their devices. The complainant, Patrick Hendricks, says that AT&T adds “phantom traffic” to its invoices in order to overcharge users. “AT&T’s billing system for iPhone and iPad data transactions is like a rigged gas pump that charges for a full gallon when it pumps only nine-tenths of a gallon into your car’s tank,” the complaint alleges. Hendricks’ lawyers hired a consulting firm to investigate the matter, and it apparently determined that AT&T regularly balloons data activity by between 7% and 14% — adding that the carrier sometimes overstates data totals by as much as 300%. AT&T said it would fight the lawsuit “vigorously” in a statement to Computerworld. More →
An unaffiliated group of pro-WikiLeaks hackers calling itself “Anoymous” finds itself short a few member this evening as multiple alleged culprits were arrested on Thursday in the U.K. The BBC reports that five men were arrested in a series of raids, and they are being held in various locations across England. Allegations against the men are described as “recent and ongoing attacks by an online group that calls itself ‘Anonymous’.” The two adults and three teenagers were allegedly involved with a series of DDoS attacks carried out last year, aimed at various websites the group felt stood in opposition of notorious news agency WikiLeaks and its famed leader Julian Assange. Targets included websites belonging to Amazon, Visa, Mastercard and Paypal. This is not the first time arrests have been made in connection with Anonymous’ attacks; two Dutch teenagers allegedly involved with the group were arrested last year, but charges were never formally filed against them. More →
Authorities said on Tuesday that charges will soon be filed against two suspects allegedly involved with the theft of sensitive personal data from AT&T’s servers last summer. The suspects have both been arrested. The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman will hold a press conference in New Jersey along with the FBI to discuss the matter. The charges in question relate to a security breach first reported in June, 2010. AT&T servers were allegedly hacked and sensitive data belonging to almost 120,000 iPad users was compromised. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by a group calling itself Goatse Security, and the two men being charged with the crimes have been identified as Andrew Auernheimer and Daniel Spitler. More →
FCC orders Verizon to pay $52.8 million to customers for erroneous data charges; $25 million settlement
According to a press release out of Washington, D.C., the FCC Enforcement Bureau has reached “an historic consent decree with Verizon Wireless — including a record $25 million payment to the U.S. Treasury — regarding ‘mystery fees’ the company charged its customers over the last several years.” The agreement also calls for VZW to pay a minimum of $52.8 million to roughly 15 million customers who were erroneously charged “mystery” data fees over the course of three years. The brief explains that the investigation “focused on ‘pay-as-you-go’ data fees — charges of $1.99 per megabyte that apply to Verizon Wireless customers who do not subscribe to a data package or plan.” Hit the jump to read the full press release and let us know if you think you’re due for a small refund from Big Red.
Early last month we reported on a policy change at T-Mobile that we weren’t exactly happy with. In a nutshell, T-Mobile decided it would force its subscribers to enroll in paperless billing lest they wish to pay an additional fee for hard copies each month. While the move was somewhat admirable on an environmental level, we were far more concerned with the ramifications this new policy would have on those without the aptitude, or financial means or equipment necessary to make use of online billing (yes, there are many people who do not own a computer). We were pretty firm with our stance and it looks like we weren’t the only ones — T-Mobile announced today that it is reversing its decision on the matter:
Since the announcement we’ve heard everything from kudos to concerns about the move to paperless – especially from our customers who today are receiving paper bills at no charge.
So, we’ve decided to not charge our customers a paper bill fee for now. Instead, we’ll be taking more time to determine the fairest way possible to encourage people to go paperless.
Kudos, T-Mobile. As we said in our last post; if you want to encourage customers to go paperless, offer them an incentive to do so. There are a variety of reasons why a customer might choose to stick with paper billing and many of them are extremely valid. To penalize these customers with a fee is just plain wrong.
They say when the cell phone gods close a door, they open a window. Such is the case this morning for T-Mobile subscribers who aren’t enjoying their time with the carrier. As of today, T-Mobile is raising its overage rates to 45¢ per minute on individual plans under $59.99 and family plans under $89.99, and 40¢ per minute for plans above those price points. Since this rate increase is carrier-invoked and it constitutes a “materially adverse change of contract,” subscribers will be able to flee without the need to pay a hefty Early Termination Fee (ETF) — just as many did with Sprint earlier this year. What do you do if you want out of your contract? Get ready for battle, that’s what. As always with carriers, odds are good the some (or even most) customer service reps won’t even know about this option. When you call, be patient while the CS rep gathers info. Make sure that when you explain why you want to cancel your contract, you specifically cite these overage rate increases as your motive. If your rep starts giving you a hard time or doesn’t sound like he/she is going to put the pieces together, ask to speak to a manager or simply call back and start over with another rep. Oh, and hit the jump for a section of the T-Mobile contract that you may want to familiarize yourself with.
As fully immersed in technology as younger generations in the US are these days, we sometimes forget that there are still generations and demographics in this country who simply haven’t latched on to tech the way we have. The spunky bunch above who have gathered around a laptop to check out BGR simply aren’t representative of older generations and let us not forget the countless people in this country who cannot afford computers. The simple truth is that there are a magnitude of reasons why someone might not own, use or even know how to use a computer. Apparently however, T-Mobile thinks its poor and elderly postpaid subscribers should be penalized for being unwilling or unable to embrace a digital lifestyle.