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In a victory over data-miners who used fraud, computer hacking and “social engineering” to collect the private cell phone numbers and calling histories of its customers, Atlanta-based Cingular Wireless has been awarded $1,135,000 in federal court. Following up on an earlier default judgment, on Nov. 9 Judge Clarence Cooper of Atlanta’s U.S. District Court ordered that Tamarac, Fla.-based 1st Source Information Specialists Inc. and company principals Kenneth W. Gorman and Steven Schwartz disgorge all profits and pay Cingular compensatory and punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. “This victory underscores the fact that Cingular will not tolerate data burglars,” said Cingular’s executive vice president and general counsel Joaquin Carbonell in a statement. “We are fighting to protect customer privacy on other fronts as well, including filing new lawsuits against telemarketers and spammers.” According to court filings, 1st Source had used several Web sites to provide cell phone numbers, reverse lookups for cell phone numbers (which provide the names of callers using such phones) and�for prices ranging from $110 to $195�records of calls made from a particular cell phone number. The defendants “engage[d] in deceit, trickery and dishonesty to obtain private information from Cingular’s (customer service representatives) through �social engineering,’ improper hacking and/or through unauthorized access to online account information stored on Cingular’s database,” said the complaint. (The term “social engineering”�once used as to describe governmental or cultural policies aimed at influencing public behavior�has acquired a new meaning as data-miners and “phishers” seek to obtain information by gaining the confidence of targets through trickery.) Among the techniques used to gather the proprietary, confidential information, it said, were instances of the defendants or their employees using customers’ passwords to access their accounts, pretending to be Cingular customers seeking information about their own accounts or posing as “fellow [Cingular] employees facing an urgent access problem in accessing a customer account.” Original defendant James Kester of Knoxville, Tenn., and his company, Data Find Solutions, reached a confidential settlement with Cingular earlier and were dismissed from the case, said his attorney, Brian C. Quist of Knoxville’s Jenkins & Jenkins. Cingular was represented by David L. Balser and Thuy N. Vu of Atlanta’s McKenna Long & Aldridge, who could not be reached. Defense attorneys Robert M. Lewis and Vanessa L. Prieto of Boca Raton, Fla.’s Law Office of P. L. Schwartz also could not be reached. The case is Cingular v. Data Find Solutions et al., No. 1:05-CV-3269-CC. Greg Land can be reached at [email protected]

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