UNITED STATES - JULY 27: The Verizon Wireless logo sits outside a store in New York, U.S., on Monday, July 27, 2009. Verizon Communications Inc. posted a 21 percent drop in profit after pension expenses mounted and business customers cut phone lines. The carrier plans to trim more than 8,000 jobs in the second half. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Verizon technician sold calling, location data for thousands of dollars

Employee breached customer trust, profited from private phone data for years.

Written by / Courtesy of ArsTechnica

An Alabama man who worked as a Verizon Wireless technician has agreed to plead guilty to a federal hacking charge in connection to his illegal use of the company’s computers to acquire customer calling and location data. The man, Daniel Eugene Traeger, faces a maximum five years in prison next month. He admitted Thursday that he sold customer data—from 2009 to 2014—to a private investigator whom the authorities have not named.

According to the man’s signed plea deal (PDF):

 At some point in 2009, the Defendant met a private investigator (“the PI”) who wanted to buy Verizon customer information from the Defendant. The Defendant accepted the PI’s offer. The defendant used Verizon computer systems and facilities to access customer call records and customer location data that he knew he was not authorized to access, and provided that information to the PI even though the Defendant knew that he was not authorized to provide it to a third party.

The Defendant accessed customer call records by logging into Verizon’s MARS system. The Defendant then compiled the data in spreadsheets, which the Defendant provided to the PI, including by e-mail. The Defendant accessed customer location data using a Verizon system called Real Time Tool. Using RTT, the Defendant “pinged” cellular telephones on Verizon’s network and provided location data for those telephones to the PI.

The plea agreement said that Traeger began making $50 monthly in 2009, when he sold two records a month. By mid-2013, he was earning $750 each month by selling 10 to 15 records. In all, the plea deal says he made more than $10,000 over a five-year period.

The defendant was based in the Birmingham area. The government did not say where the victims lived.

Traeger is expected to appear in federal court October 20 and enter his plea. The defendant’s attorney, Michael Rasmussen in Birmingham, did not immediately respond for comment.