Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Screenplay Just Writes Itself - The True Story of a Chubby, Bald, Blind, Housebound, Teenage, Evil Genius

I was reading the Air-Freight current issue of Rolling Stone this morning in Borders when I came across a fantastic article by David Kushner about a blind, overweight Boston kid who used his extraordinary mimicking skills to get access to the phone numbers and credit card information of celebrities, politicians and even FBI agents. Matthew Weigman's power grew to such an extent that he attracted a devoted band of acolytes who would do his bidding and anyone considered to be an enemy would either have their phone cut off or would find a SWAT team at their door come to arrest them for imaginary crimes. You can read the entire article here and you should, it's fascinating. A little snippet:

By 14, Weigman was conning his way through AT&T and Verizon, tricking them into divulging insider information — like supervisor identification numbers and passwords — that gave him full run of the system. If he heard a supervisor's voice once, he could imitate it with eerie precision when calling one of the man's underlings. If he heard someone dialing a number, he could memorize the digits purely by tone. Once he called a phone company posing as a girl, saying he needed to verify the identity of a technician who was at "her" door. Convinced, the operator coughed up the technician's company ID number, direct phone line and supervisor — key information that Weigman could later put to nefarious use, like cutting off a rival's phone line.

There seemed to be no limit to what he could do: shut off your phone service, dig up your unlisted cellphone number, even listen in on your home phone — something only a handful of veteran phreaks can pull off. Celebrities were a favorite target. Weigman heard a YouTube video of Mitt Romney's son Matt dialing his dad. Weigman listened closely to the touch tones, deciphered the candidate's cellphone number — and then made a call of his own. "Mitt Romney!" he said. "What's going on, dude? Running for president?" Weigman says Romney told him to shove the phone up his ass, and hung up.