‘When they dial, they use the middle finger.’ – Wired has a story about three sightless brothers who ‘have devoted their lives to proving they can out-think, out-program, and out-hack anyone with vision.’

Inside the chintz-filled living room of the Badir family’s neat and modest home, a feast of freshly roasted chicken, saffron rice, and seasoned vegetable stew perfumes the air. Friends and relatives pour through the front door to congratulate 27-year-old Munther “Ramy” Badir. He’s just been released from prison after serving 47 months for computer-related crimes. Outside, Islamic prayers resonate from speakers on a truck moving slowly down the dusty streets of Kafr Kassem. Everyone in this Israeli village – populated mostly by Arabs – appears ecstatic to have Ramy back.

But he does not see their smiles. Ramy, along with two of his three brothers, has been blind since birth due to a genetic defect. He and his sightless brothers have devoted their lives to proving they can out-think, out-program, and out-hack anyone with vision. (Their sighted brother, Ashraf, is a baker with no tech leanings.) They’ve been remarkably successful. Ramy says dryly, “A computer that is safe and protected is a computer stacked in a warehouse and unplugged.”

Israeli authorities agree. The 44 charges leveled against Ramy, Muzher, and Shadde Badir in 1999 included telecommunications fraud, theft of computer data, and impersonation of a police officer. The brothers’ six-year spree of hacking into phone systems and hijacking telephone time ended when they were convicted of stealing credit card numbers and breaking into the Israeli army radio station’s telephone system to set up an illicit phone company. Unwitting customers – mostly Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip – paid the fake telco for long distance calls that were billed to the radio station. A lawyer close to the case said that the Badirs’ scams pulled in more than $2 million.

More here.