9/22/2014

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Man used Google flaw to eavesdrop on calls to Secret Service

Man used Google flaw to eavesdrop on calls to Secret Service

SEATTLE -- An Edmonds man who recently exposed a flaw in Google Maps says he was questioned by the Secret Service after his latest stunt.

Brian Seely admits he spent years creating fake business listings on Google Maps for profit.

"I've personally worked on and seen over 50,000 fake businesses," he said.

The fake listings can be used for criminal purposes, and Google's verification process can't stop it.

"I'm trying to draw attention to the fact that millions of people in this country are calling businesses that are not really there," Seely said.

Seely upped the ante this week when he used the same flaw to eavesdrop on phone calls to the Secret Service and FBI.

He said he created fake Google Map listings using real information for the Secret Service field office in Washington DC and an FBI office in San Francisco. But instead of listing the real office numbers, he replaced them with his own phone number.

That number forwarded incoming calls to the real Secret Service phone number, while he stayed on the conversation as a silent third party. He also recorded the conversations.

"This way when someone calls, someone from the Secret Service actually picks up and I'm in on the phone call recording both sides," he said. "This is a massive problem."

Seely said he eventually took the information -- and recordings -- to the Secret Service.

"I went into the Secret Service office and said, 'Hey, this is what I did,'" he said.  "He was not happy. They grabbed a couple of people, they patted me down, searched my bag, read me my rights."

After four hours of questioning, Seely said he was allowed to leave.

A Seattle-based Secret Service agent confirmed Seely's account of the story and said the Secret Service has contacted investigators with Google to fix the problem.

Google has not returned calls for comment on the story.

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