[ISN] Computer Hackers Place False Emergency Calls - Hiawatha Prank Call

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu Feb 10 05:24:12 EST 2005


[Note: I added the headline from another story on the same subject, 
this article had the most information, but the headline was lacking. - WK] 

By Dave Franzman 
KCRG-TV9 News 
February 09, 2005

The FBI will investigate the realistic, but fake, 911 call that sent
officers rushing to a Hiawatha company on Tuesday.

Hiawatha Police Chief Rick Pierce says the hoax became a federal case
because the call originated from somewhere on the west
coast...possibly from a stolen or "cloned" cell phone.

Officers say three separate calls to 9-1-1 dispatchers Tuesday were so
realistic people could hearing yelling and screaming and even gunfire
in the background. But when police and ambulance units arrived at the
Crystal Group office in Hiawatha they found no gunmen and only
confused workers.

Wednesday, investigators said they had a better idea of what may have
happened. Chief Pierce says someone called several offices at the
Crystal Group Tuesday asking about phone system passwords.

One worker at the company mistakenly gave out a "pin" number. With
that number, pranksters could dial from out of state, but make it
appear the call originated at the Hiawatha business.

Chief Pierce says he's convinced the person who faked the call was not
an average hacker, but someone familiar with phone systems.

No one connected with emergency dispatch at the Linn County
Communications Center can recall anything this elaborate in the way of
a fake 9-1-1 call. Officers say this call was especially dangerous not
only to officers responding, but also for people at the company who
could have reacted inappropriately to the appearance of armed

Hiawatha officials say they believe the FBI may have some experience
with similar hoaxes elsewhere.

Hiawatha police were unable to trace the origin of the call beyond
somewhere on the west coast.

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