Default voicemail password leads to $8,600 phone bill

Incident Date: March 10 2003
Incident Location: Lancaster PA USA

A small business, named Coleman's Ice Cream, found themselves with an $8,600 phone bill due to long distance charges made by criminals. Steve and Diane Lueders, the owners, were paying for a voice mail service through their local phone company. The voice mail PIN defaulted to the last four digits of their phone number. Criminals discovered this PIN and changed the voice mail message.

The new message greeted callers with "hello" followed by a pause and then "yes operator, I will accept a collect call". This is a common way of fooling operators into thinking that they are speaking with a live person when asking for permission to bill a collect call. By using third-party billed collect calling, which allows you to bill the call to a number other than the one you are calling, the criminals made a 35-hour telephone call to Saudi Arabia that totaled $8,600.

Story Sources

Title: Scam Runs Phone Bill Up To $8,600
Date: 3/10/2003
Publication: WGAL Channel 8
Publication Location: Lancaster PA USA
Publication URL:

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