Man admits using 'spoofing' service to threaten women



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Posted on September 14, 2010 at 6:43 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 14 at 7:51 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. - An Olympia man admitted Tuesday he made 4,000 threatening calls to women across the country using a controversial service that shielded his identity.

The case of Daniel Leonard is raising fresh scrutiny about whether the government should crack down on “spoofing” services that allow callers to conceal their phone numbers and even their voices.

Leonard admitted to using a phone spoofing service to harass hundreds, maybe thousands, of women across the country.

“Sadly, he would often threaten these women with rape,” says Seattle federal prosecutor Kathryn Warma. “He would indicate he was masturbating while talking with them on the phone."

Leonard, a former human resources manager at Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Wash. made violent and sexually-charged calls to co-workers, acquaintances and strangers.

Authorities in several states have charged that there are few legitimate purposes for phone spoofing. The president of the New Jersey company that Leonard used disagrees.

"The vast majority of our customers use this legally to protect their privacy," says Meir Cohen of Spoofcard, which allows paying customers to access its spoofing services from any phone.  Customers can input a fake phone number to show up on the caller ID of the person receiving the call and they can choose an altered voice that sounds like a man or a woman.

'The majority of people who use a service like that are trying to evade responsibility," says Warma, the federal prosecutor.

Leonard's is just one of hundreds of spoofing cases investigated by the FBI,  so congress is considering a ban.