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For Kevin Mitnick, Staying Legal Is Job One

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Mitnick business card

One of Kevin Mitnick's business cards doubles as a lock-picking kit.

Josh Miller / CNET

Kevin Mitnick was eager to participate in a social-engineering contest at the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas last weekend and was told he would target Microsoft in the event.

He figured it would be fun to show off his schmoozing skills, which he so easily used to trick employees at tech companies in the 1990s into handing over passwords and other sensitive information, ultimately landing him in jail.

But when he called his attorney to run it past him, the response was "Are you crazy?!"

Mitnick's lawyer, who declined to be interviewed, advised his most famous client that wire fraud statutes can be broadly interpreted such that any interstate commerce (phone calls) conducted to defraud someone, even if it is part of a contest, could be construed as a violation, according to Mitnick.

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