Science and Tech


Man Uses Google Maps To Listen To FBI, Secret Service Calls

A network engineer spoofed Google Maps listings to listen in on calls made to the FBI and Secret Service.
Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 01, 2014

​A network engineer has successfully listened in on calls made to the FBI and Secret Service, and it's all thanks to Google Maps. 

A writer for Valleywag says Bryan Seely set up fake listings on Google Maps for the Secret Service office in Washington D.C. and the FBI office in San Francisco.

When someone called the listed number, Seely's phone service would forward them to the FBI or Secret Service, while recording the phone call. Valleywag has the recordings. Take a listen.

FBI phone operator: "FBI how can we help you?"

Caller: "Yes ma'am, I called y'all to inform y'all that someone has sent me an email claiming to be y'all."

(Via SoundCloud /nitasha-tiku)

Now, a call about a phishing email isn't all that worrisome, but when you consider the possibilities it gets a little scary — a scammer could have used this technique to listen in on a call to a bank or doctor or any number of sensitive contacts.

Going forward, though, Gizmodo reports you shouldn't have to worry. Google told the tech site "many of the exploits Seely used in the first place have been patched up, so the risk of any new DIY tapping setups by the same method seems slim to none."

Still, exploits like this are fairly common. In an earlier report by Gizmodo, Seely told the tech site spammers will create fake listings for "locksmiths, child care services, or carpet cleaners, and … forward calls and other inquiries to different … businesses for a fee."

In the end, Seely says he alerted the Secret Service and FBI of the vulnerability. According to Valleywag, a Secret Service special agent called Seely a hero for exposing the issue.

And of Google and its services, Seely said, "Everyone trusts Google implicitly and it's completely unwarranted and it's completely unsafe."