Voice Mail
bullet  A disgruntled former employee monitored the voice mail of his former co-workers who failed to provide effective password protection for their voice mailboxes.

Voice Mail Is Vulnerable

A disgruntled former employee, John Hebel, regularly broke into the voice mail system of his former employer, Standard Duplicating Machines Corporation (Standard) of Andover, MA, as part of a scheme to make unauthorized use of the company's sales leads and confidential marketing information.1

Hebel was employed as a field sales manager for Standard between October 1990 and September 1992. Standard was engaged in the sale and distribution of reprographic and print finishing equipment throughout North America. Hebel worked out of an office he maintained in his home in Ballwin, MO.

Standard had an electronic voice mail system. Each Standard employee had his or her own voice mail box, which could be accessed from remote locations. Messages containing sales leads and other confidential marketing information would often be left in voice mail boxes.

After Standard terminated Hebel on in September 1992, Hebel went to work for Duplo U.S.A. Corporation, a subsidiary of Duplo Manufacturing Corp. of Tokyo, Japan. Duplo hired Hebel as its Midwest Regional Manager. Duplo and Standard were direct competitors in the market for commercial collating equipment.

Hebel developed a scheme to defraud Standard by gaining unauthorized access to its voice mail system. By virtue of his prior employment at Standard, Hebel knew the telephone number for accessing Standard's voice mail system from remote locations. He knew that the "default" password for a particular voice mailbox would be the employee's telephone extension plus the pound sign, and that virtually no Standard employees had utilized unique passwords to protect their voice mail boxes. Hebel also knew which Standard executives and employees were likely to receive sales leads and other confidential marketing information in their individual voice mail boxes.

Between November 1992 and September 1993, Hebel accessed Standard's voice mail system from remote locations on several hundred occasions. He did it, without authorization, by using the passwords of various Standard executives and employees. His purpose was to obtain sales leads and confidential marketing information which he could use for the benefit of Duplo and for his own personal benefit.

Standard learned of Hebel’s activity through an unsolicited phone call from a customer who had been solicited by Hebel after leaving a message on Standard’s voice mail system. The FBI arrested Hebel for wire fraud on November 5, 1996, and he was sentenced in March 1997 to two years probation.

Related Topic: Intercepting Your Communications

1. FBI Director Louis Freeh, Statement before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, January 28, 1998. Also PR Newswire, Former Sales Manager Charged in Voice Mail Scam, November 5, 1996.




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