'Russian Hackers' Help Fraudsters Hijack JFK Airport's Taxi Dispatch

DoJ charges allege they hacked into the taxi dispatch system for profit, selling the ability for cab drivers to skip the line for picking up a fare at JFK terminals.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

December 21, 2022

1 Min Read
New York taxi at JFK airport
Source: Ashley Cooper via Alamy Stock Photo

Two Americans have been indicted for hacking the New York taxi industry.

With the help of two Russian nationals, Daniel Abayev and Peter Leyman are accused by the Department of Justice and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey of breaching the John F. Kennedy International Airport taxi dispatch system and selling slots to cabbies who wanted to skip to the head of the line to pick up the next airport fare.

New York cabs at JFK airport are required to wait in a holding lot, and line up and pick up the next fare in the order they arrive.

During their intercepted text messages with the Russian nationals, Abayev asked the hackers, "I know that the Pentagon is being hacked, so why can't we hack the taxi industry?"

The DoJ alleges the two, over the course of their fraud, used their unauthorized access to the JFK taxi dispatch to help as many as a 1,000 taxis a day skip the line.

“As alleged in the indictment, these two defendants — with the help of Russian hackers — took the Port Authority for a ride," US Attorney Damian Williams said about the indictments. "For years, the defendants' hacking kept honest cab drivers from being able to pick up fares at JFK in the order in which they arrived."

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