Skip navigation

How a terror group cloned Ted Rogers' cellphone

Continued from Page 1

On Sept. 27, Mr. Gefen arrived at the conference, which was held at a Ramada Inn near Highway 401 and the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. He paid a $200 registration fee and wore a nametag marked "Harry Gefen/ Knowledge Media."

After listening to Ms. Hopper's speech, Mr. Gefen engaged her in a tape-recorded follow-up conversation that provided an unexpected glimpse into the secret world of cellphone security. Ms. Hopper said Rogers definitely has the means to spot unusual activity on an account, using technology similar to that used by banks to spot fraudulent activity involving debit or credit cards.

"We have a fraud-management system that looks for extraordinary patterns," she told Mr. Gefen.

"And what activates it?" he asked.

"It would be something like, say, you'd never called long distance before and suddenly your phone gets, uh, nonstop to India," she replied.

"What happens after that point?" Mr. Gefen asked.

"Someone calls the customer and asks them whether they're really doing that or whether someone's stolen their phone," she said. Ms. Hopper said that if a customer can't be reached, the company sometimes cuts off the phone's long-distance access to prevent further fraud.

In her statement of claim against Rogers, Ms. Drummond charges that Rogers Wireless knew that something was amiss with her cellphone, yet did nothing to stop it. She notes that she had never made an overseas call with the phone, yet in the month of August, it was used to make more than 300.

"Rogers has a systematic, computer-generated program that immediately alerts their fraud department of atypical calling patterns," she says in one court filing. ". . . In relation to the contract for my cellphone number, Rogers breached its duty of care to prevent fraudulent phone calls being made. . . ."

Jan Innes, a vice-president with Rogers Communications, confirmed that the company has an automatic fraud-detection system that flags suspicious calling patterns, but refused to say how it works.

"We do not give out information that might help people get around the system," she said.

Ms. Innes said that Rogers has a policy of contacting consumers if fraud is suspected. In some cases, she admitted, phones are shut off automatically, but refused to say what criteria were used. (Ms. Drummond and Mr. Gefen believe that the company bases the decision on a customer's creditworthiness. "If you have the financial history, they let the meter run," Ms. Drummond said.) Ms. Drummond noted that she has a salary of more than $100,000, and a sterling credit history. "They knew something was wrong, but they thought they could get the money out of me. It's ridiculous."

Ms. Innes denies that charge. "Creditworthiness doesn't enter into it," she said. Ms. Innes conceded that the hundreds of calls made to foreign hot spots represented a dramatic change in Ms. Drummond's phone usage, but insists that Rogers does not bear responsibility for failing to shut off the service when they couldn't contact her.

"That was in the terms of her contract," she said. ". . . Many of our customers have unusual patterns. It would be onerous if we shut them all down."

In court filings, the company has made it clear that it intends to hold Ms. Drummond responsible for the calls made on her phone. ". . . the plaintiff is responsible for all calls made on her phone prior to the date of notification that her phone was stolen," the company says. "The Plaintiff's failure to mitigate deprived the Defendant of the opportunity to take any action to stop fraudulent calls prior to the 28th of August 2005."

Ms. Innes said the company has offered to settle the case with Ms. Drummond, but said she has refused. Ms. Drummond confirmed that the company had offered to write off the bill if she pays $2,000, but she has rejected the offer.

"I shouldn't have to pay any of this," she said. "The company knew what was going on. I'm not going to pay them for theft."

Toronto Police Constable Chris Dionne, who is investigating the theft of Ms. Drummond's phone, said the long list of foreign calls made on her unit has been forwarded to the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service for investigation.

Recommend this article? 45 votes

Back to top