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AT&T says it exposed pretexting operations

The firm uses subpoenas to uncover false online accounts set up to obtain private phone records.

December 30, 2006|From Bloomberg News

AT&T Inc. subpoenaed Internet service providers to identify 12 individuals and companies suspected of setting up false online accounts to obtain customer information.

AT&T used the subpoenas, granted by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, to uncover those who used pretexting, or assumed identities, to gain unauthorized access to as many as 2,500 calling histories and other confidential data, AT&T said Friday.

AT&T cooperated with a California lawsuit that charged Hewlett-Packard Co. investigators with using pretexting to get private phone records of employees, directors and journalists to uncover the source of news leaks.

The 12 identified in an AT&T lawsuit weren't involved in the Hewlett-Packard case, AT&T spokesman Walt Sharp said.

"They are not related, to the best of our knowledge," Sharp said. "We worked with the California attorney general on the HP cases, and there was a finite group of persons who were pretexted there."

AT&T doesn't believe that investigators for Hewlett-Packard relied on any of the 12 in their probe, Sharp said.

The suspected pretexters AT&T identified Friday include Tampa, Fla.-based DWC Research Inc., Lobel Financial Corp. of Anaheim and Los Angeles-based Nowcom Corp.

AT&T in August filed a complaint in San Antonio, where the company is based, similar to the September California case. In that case, AT&T also identified individuals who used pretexting based on subpoenas issued by Judge Orlando L. Garcia.

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