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Blind kid develops superpower, wreaks havoc on Verizon, AT&T, and others

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Like a comic-book villain transformed by a tragic accident, Weigman discovered at an early age that his acute hearing gave him superpowers on the telephone. He could impersonate any voice, memorize phone numbers by the sound of the buttons and decipher the inner workings of a phone system by the frequencies and clicks on a call, which he refers to as "songs." The knowledge enabled him to hack into cellphones, order phone lines disconnected and even tap home phones. "Man, it felt pretty powerful for a little kid," he says. "Anyone said something bad about me, and I'd press a button, and I'd get them."

...

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. A favorite ploy was to get the name of a telephone technician visiting his house, then impersonate the man on the phone to extract codes and other data from unsuspecting co-workers. 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.

...

Weigman became a master of what phreakers call "social engineering" learning phone-industry jargon and using it to manipulate telecommunications workers. One day, Weigman picked up the phone and dialed AT&T. Two rings, then a voice: "Thanks for calling, this is Byron. How can I help you?"

"How you doing, Byron?" Weigman asked, adopting the tone of an older man, one at ease with his own authority.

"Good," Byron said. "And you?"

"I'm doing all right. My name is William Jones. I'm calling you with AT&T asset protection. I'm actually working on a customer-fraud issue. We need to write out a D order." In a few short sentences, Weigman had appropriated the name, voice and lingo of a real AT&T agent, ordering a rival's phone to be disconnected.

"What's the telephone number?" Byron asked. Weigman rattled off the name and number on his rival's account. Then, to authorize access, he gave Byron the AT&T security-ID code belonging to Jones.

For a moment, the phone filled with the sound of rattling computer keys being struck by expert fingers.

"Looks like it's paid in full," Byron said, puzzled.

"Yeah," Weigman said, "we're looking at a fraud account, sir. We're just going to have to take that out of there."

...

Weigman's auditory skills had always been central to his exploits, the means by which he manipulated the phone system. Now he gave Lynd a first-hand display of his powers. At one point during the visit, Lynd's cellphone rang. "I can't talk to you right now," the agent told the caller. "I'm out doing something." When he hung up, Weigman turned to him from across the room. "Oh," the kid asked, "is that Billy Smith from Verizon?"

Lynd was stunned. William Smith was a fraud investigator with Verizon who had been working with him on the swatting case. Weigman not only knew all about the man and his role in the investigation, but he had identified Smith simply by hearing his Southern-accented voice on the cellphone a sound which would have been inaudible to anyone else in the room. Weigman then shocked Lynd again, rattling off the names of a host of investigators working for other phone companies. Matt, it turned out, had spent weeks identifying phone-company employees, gaining their trust and obtaining confidential information about the FBI investigation against him. Even the phone account in his house, he revealed to Lynd, had been opened under the name of a telephone-company investigator. Lynd had rarely seen anything like it even from cyber gangs who tried to hack into systems at the White House and the FBI. "Weigman flabbergasted me," he later testified.

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