Illegal phone system evaded tolls, judicial police report

Three lawyers and four electronic experts are being investigated for using technology to bypass the national telephone system and run up millions of dollars in overseas calls.

The Judicial Investigating Organization conducted two raids Monday, including one in the shadow of the court complex downtown. Four persons were detained. Agents said they were investigating three more persons, all lawyers, who are suspected of creating false documents as part of the scam.

The Poder Judicial said that low-income and homeless persons were used to obtain fixed telephone service from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the phone company. Using electronic devices, the illegal system was able to bypass the normal telephone net and the system for calculating charges.

Fake documents were created to assist individuals in getting telephone service from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. The scamsters then took over the fixed lines and installed their electronic devices.

The Poder Judicial did not say so but the suspicion is that the illegal network was being marketed to individuals and firms that make a lot of overseas calls.

The four persons detained Monday were identified by the last names of Alemán, Soto, Vargas and Mejía. They all were identified as information technology specialists.

The case is in the hands of the Unidad Especializada en Fraudes of the judicial police. The potential charges include creation and use of false documents as well as telecom fraud.

Agents were accompanied by a technician from the phone company during the raids.

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