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A Game With The FBI And A 17-Month Pursuit

The Fifteen Greatest Hacking Exploits
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Kevin Poulsen is another name that circulated around FBI offices during the 1980s. He was arrested for the first time in 1989, when he was 24 years old. At that time he was charged with several intrusions into telephone and computer servers, with different types of incriminating evidence produced against him. When it came time to appear before a judge, though, he decided to flee, which led to a pursuit that kept the FBI on his trail for 17 months. It was during this period when he achieved his most famous hack.

Poulsen Taunts the FBI

A game contest launched by a Los Angeles radio station, KIIS-FM, asked its audience to phone in to try to win a Porsche 944 S2, a prize that would go to the 102nd caller. Kevin Poulsen went into action: he took control of all phone switchboard lines, effectively blocking all incoming calls, to ensure that he was the 102nd caller and win the prize. Poulsen profited from his nose thumbing at the FBI, teasing the authorities into searching for him while he again disappeared into the wild.

He was finally arrested by the FBI in April 1991 - it was an anonymous tip that allowed his capture, telling the authorities that Poulsen shopped at a supermarket in the outskirts of Los Angeles. He was charged in 1994, a process that ended with Poulsen being sentenced to four years in prison. This sentence was the heaviest imposed on a hacker at that time.

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