Canada

Cellphone security fraud leaves customer with big bill

Susan Drummond was shocked when she returned from an overseas trip in August to find an urgent message from Rogers Wireless saying she owed $12,000 in long distance charges.

Susan Drummond was shocked when she returned from an overseas trip in August to find an urgent message from Rogers Wireless saying she owed $14,000 in long distance charges.

"I've never had more than $100 on my bill, maybe $75, I don't make overseas calls," she said. "I immediately went to the police."

The university law professor's cellphone had been stolen while she was away and someone had made over 300 calls to Pakistan, Iran, and other countries.

Drummond says Rogers offered her no recourse, then cut off her son's phone, so she decided to take them to court.

That's when she says she found out Rogers Wireless had been hit with some elaborate security frauds, including one that went straight to the top.

Drummond's partner Harry Gefen attended a security conference in September, where he says he taped a conversation with Cindy Hopper, a senior Rogers security expert.

Hopper said criminals were using scanners to get the cellphone codes of the company's top executives. "They were cloning the senior executives repeatedly, because everyone was afraid to cut off [Roger's chairman] Ted Rogers' phone."

The company worked with police to track those unauthorized calls to a Toronto-based identity theft ring that Hopper claims had ties to the militant group, Hezbollah.

Now Drummond and Gefen want to know why the fraudulent calls weren't caught sooner and why they're stuck with the bill.

For its part, Rogers says it will correct the situation. "It is clear from a thorough review that in Ms. Drummond's case mistakes were made," said Rogers spokesperson Jan Innes. "We are making every effort to contact her to resolve this situation." Rogers admits its top executives were victims of a security breach, but that was back in 1997, when they used analogue phones.

That kind of theft, it says, couldn't happen with today's digital phones.