AOH :: ISNQ6249.HTM

Former Con Man Helps Feds Thwart Alleged ATM Hacking Spree




Former Con Man Helps Feds Thwart Alleged ATM Hacking Spree
Former Con Man Helps Feds Thwart Alleged ATM Hacking Spree



http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/05/thor/ 

By Kevin Poulsen  
Threat Level
Wired.com
May 4, 2010

A North Carolina grocery worker is being held without bail in Houston on 
attempted computer hacking charges after inadvertently partnering with 
an undercover FBI agent in an alleged citywide ATM-reprogramming caper.

Thor Alexander Morris, 19, was arrested at a Houston flea market last 
month after trying a default administrative passcode on a Tranax 
Mini-Bank ATM there, according to the FBI. Morris, who was wearing a wig 
to disguise his appearance, allegedly hoped to reprogram the machine to 
think it was loaded with $1 bills instead of $20 bills. That would let 
him pull $8,000 in cash with $400 in withdrawals from a prepaid debit 
card.

Details of the federal case are laid out in a criminal complaint (.pdf) 
filed in Houston in late April. Morris allegedly hoped to hit more than 
30 Houston ATMs and clear at least $250,000. But he made the mistake of 
approaching a reformed Texas con man for help with the scheme, who 
helped the feds set up a sting operation.

Cash-machine-reprogramming scams were first noticed in the financial 
industry in 2005, and surfaced publicly in 2006 when a cyber thief was 
caught on video looting an ATM at a Virginia gas station. Threat Level 
later confirmed that default administrative passcodes for retail ATMs 
manufactured by Tranax and Triton were printed in owner's manuals easily 
found online.

[...]


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