Pena is the first individual to be charged with hacking the networks of VoIP companies and reselling their services for a profit.
Pena, a citizen of Venezuela, was arrested in 2006 but fled the U.S. shortly thereafter. He was recaptured in Mexico in February, 2009, and subsequently extradited back to the U.S. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit computer hacking and wire fraud and to committing wire fraud this past February.
Fishman in a statement characterized hackers as no different than bank robbers.
"Theft is theft whether you rob a bank or hack into somebody else's network and steal their services," he said. "Hackers attacking new and emerging technologies should not assume that law enforcement cannot keep up with them, even when they operate from the shadows or from other countries."
Pena, with the help of co-conspirator Robert Moore, who was sentenced to 24 months for his role in the scheme, defrauded VoIP service providers by masquerading as a legitimate provider of wholesale Internet phone service. Pena purportedly sold discounted service plans to customers. In fact, he was selling service stolen from other VoIP providers.
Pena and Moore were able to find vulnerable VoIP networks through extensive port scanning. According to AT&T records provided to the prosecution, Moore initiated over six million scans of AT&T's network between June 2005 and October 2005. Pena sold over 10 million minutes of VoIP service hijacked from other networks, resulting in losses estimated to be $1.4 million in less than a year.