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The Courts Crime

Feds Drop CFAA Charges Against 'Hacker' Who Exploited Poker Machines 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the judge-who-know-what's-up dept.
FuzzNugget writes "According to Wired, the two CFAA charges that were laid against the man who exploited a software bug on a video poker machine have been officially dismissed. Says Wired: '[U.S. District Judge Miranda] Du had asked prosecutors to defend their use of the federal anti-hacking law by Wednesday, in light of a recent 9th Circuit ruling that reigned in the scope of the CFAA. The dismissal leaves John Kane, 54, and Andre Nestor, 41, facing a single remaining charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.' Kane's lawyer agreed, stating, 'The case never should have been filed under the CFAA, it should have been just a straight wire fraud case. And I'm not sure its even a wire fraud. I guess we'll find out when we go to trial.'"
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Feds Drop CFAA Charges Against 'Hacker' Who Exploited Poker Machines

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  • by MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:17AM (#43661975)

    spinning in his grave.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      it's because of his death they are afraid to abuse that law. they hope by following it's intent people demanding this tool prosecutors overreach and use to prosecute people they shouldn't with won't get rid of it until the heat dies down. and then they can abuse it all they want again.

    • We strapped him down real good.
    • by Nexus7 (2919)

      Like with Swartz, this is the prosecutors Christmas-treeing up the charges, to psych and make it too expensive for the defendants; and make them settle - for money, some jail time, whatever. That way they can chalk one up in the win column, which looks pretty good when they run for office. I'm assuming the defendant here was white, because if he were black, I'd expect to see charges for tax evasion, aiding offshore combatants, and possession of skills with intention to use for mass destruction of capitalis

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        This case is similar to the situation where they were trying to basically charge that older lady that taunted a girl so badly that the girl committed suicide, with basically computer hacking, since she technically broke the TOS of the social networking sites she used to do that.

        A reprehensible act, sure, but not computer hacking like they were trying to charge her with...

        That's why I'm adament about looking very closely at new laws as they come out and always look for how the authorities *might* abuse it

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:21AM (#43661999)

    You got to know when to hold em.
    Know when to fold em.
    Know when to walk away, know when to run.

  • by rs1n (1867908) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:41AM (#43662097)
    Nothing in the summary links to the actual article in which the charges are noted as dismissed. Here's the relevant link: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/05/video-poker-hacking-dismissed/ [wired.com]
  • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:42AM (#43662105)

    How many undiscovered glitches are there that cause the player to lose unfairly?

    • by Wattos (2268108) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @12:44AM (#43662113)

      How many undiscovered glitches are there that cause the player to lose unfairly?

      These are called features ;)

    • by starless (60879)

      Same as with candy bar machines.
      They frequently fail to give you your candy bar, but they almost never accidentally give you 2 candy bars.
      They're obviously engineered to "fail" in a way that benefits the "house"....

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        They're engineered to be fail safe.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I've always been lucky and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I've actually gotten two more often than I've been ripped off. (In fact, I only remember being ripped off once, at work, where I was reimbursed. But I remember several occasions where I've gotten two.)

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @05:14AM (#43663175)

        I had a vending machine once display "WINNER" on the LCD, then it proceeded to give me my item and ALSO refund all the money I put into it!

        It was very, very rare as used that machine quite often and it only happened once. But it does show the people that program them might easily have put in things that favor the person using the machine...

        • by EETech1 (1179269)

          The coffee machine where I used to work would do that. I asked the vending machine guy about it, and he said it was adjustable, and set so every 50th cup was free. It was not a random 1 in 50 chance, simply every 50th cup.

          There was a beat up old sticker by the bill validator that said "I will be giving away DRINKS ON THE HOUSE! Watch for the message, Listen for the beeps, IT MAY BE YOU"

          Not everyone knew about it, so there was also about a 1 in 100 chance that their change would be left in the coin return:

          • by DriveDog (822962)
            Such was the case with the snack machine at the office. Every 100th person gets the item and their money returned. Hardly anyone knew about it. The first time it happened to me, I thought it was a defect. Then I noticed a scrolling message where the amount deposited would display that said "EVERY 100TH SELECTION NO COST" or some such, along with some other scrolling garbage. Nobody had bothered to read it because most of the time the other garbage was scrolling by, and only a few letters could be displayed,
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Same as with candy bar machines.
        They frequently fail to give you your candy bar, but they almost never accidentally give you 2 candy bars.
        They're obviously engineered to "fail" in a way that benefits the "house"....

        Depends on the machine. At one place, two of the 5 had special sensors that ensured something fell down into the chute (I think the machines called it "seeing eye" or something). It's just a little optical sensor whose beam gets broken by the item.

        Once, it DID fail on me - the item was still stuc

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In a casino? I'd imagine the customer would immediately point out the glitch to a staff and get reimbursed, gamblers can get really nasty when they lose unfairly. So I'd say zero undiscovered glitches that go against the gambler. There may be some that are yet not fixed but not undiscovered.

      As to whether this particular case, going the opposite way, is a crime... Well every online game I've played says "bug-use is a bannable offense" so it's a grey area at best, but you still can't blame the casino from rai

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @02:57AM (#43662669)

        Analogy time: let's say someone discovers that through some wild combination of reflections he can see your younger sister taking a shower off the shiny back of a brand new stop sign. So he videos the shower scene while legally standing on a public sidewalk, and puts in on YouTube. Illegal or a legit use of a bug?

        The looking would be legal. Video of a naked sub-18 posted without permission would likely be a crime, regardless of how it was obtained. If your younger sister is over 18, the only issue would be using someone's likeness without permission.

      • by egcagrac0 (1410377) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @03:54AM (#43662845)

        he can see your younger sister taking a shower off the shiny back of a brand new stop sign. So he videos the shower scene while legally standing on a public sidewalk, and puts in on YouTube. Illegal or a legit use of a bug?

        Legit use of a bug, but a violation of YouTube's Terms of Service [youtube.com] ("you will not submit to the Service any Content or other material that is contrary to the YouTube Community Guidelines") and Community Guidelines [youtube.com] ("YouTube is not for pornography or sexually explicit content").

        In the specific case of my younger sister, it's also horrific taste. She's quite unattractive. (Community guidelines: "YouTube is not a shock site. Don't post gross-out videos")

      • by Myopic (18616) *

        Banning a lucky or plucky player is one thing but prosecuting him for a crime is a much different thing. I think banning is reasonable in most cases ('right to refuse service') but prosecutions should only happen when crimes are committed.

    • I doubt there are that many, largely because it would be pretty stupid to risk losing your license to operate a machine that, simply by the laws of probability, will almost make money. In the places where these things operate they usually have to undergo some pretty stringent testing to make sure the odds of winning are as close to "real" poker as possible. TFA even mentions them undergoing random spot inspections where they take a SHA-1 hash of the machine data and compare it with what is registered....
    • by 91degrees (207121)
      I'd imagine this would be taken pretty seriously. Nevada regulated games pretty tightly, but the casinos want to provide an honest game. Their reputation matters, and they make a huge profit running honest games. A suggestion that they're cheating puts off a lot more honest players than they can win through a few glitches.
    • by hey! (33014)

      That was my thought when I read the summary, but then I read the article.

      The glitch wasn't one that caused the machine to lose; it was one that allowed the player to manipulate the machine into paying out the same jackpot *twice*. Compounding that, it could be made to pay out that jackpot at odds higher than the player actually faced the first time around.

      Let's look at this by analogy. Suppose there was a real card game offered by the casino, and this game had a flaw in it; that flaw consists of a no-los

    • In my short experience of working at a casino as a slot attendant, we've had malfunctions (eg: play button stuck down) that has caused the patron to lose their money. In that case we verify how much they started with and give them a ticket for the original amount (this is customer service, not a legal requirement). Anyone could tell you that if they hit a jackpot (anything above $2,000 or $3,000, can't remember which) while the machine was malfunctioning (as long as it was a legitimate play and not an error
  • "According to Wired, the two CFAA charges .. have been officially dismissed".

    Where does it say that in the two links provided?
  • They should have used wireless...

  • by Errol backfiring (1280012) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:30AM (#43662987) Journal

    "I guess we'll find out when we go to trial.'"

    It is this "Lucky shot" kind of "justice" that makes the U.S. justice system a boring joke around the world. Off course there is always the possibility that you sue somebody for something that turns out not to be applicable, but just suing (and therefore financially draining) a victim just to see what he may be accused of is just criminal.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The point of pressing any buttons in the poker is to win or increase the winnings. No button pressing combination is thus any different from any other. And they should either all be illegal or not. Blaming these people for playing the game as it is, is just ridiculous. Casinos should be more careful about bugs and pay the bills in this case for their failure to do so.

    Voting systems, now, I wish the same scrutiny was awarded to them.

  • Not sure I'm convinced that exploiting an obvious glitch isn't hacking. Especially when part of the process involves manipulating the casino into enabling the feature. It's pretty obvious that this isn't intended behaviour and it's a glitch.

    Also not convinced that it is wire fraud. Seems an odd charge to apply.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Casino's entire reason for existance is to profit off of a glitch in the human brain.

  • but now he has to fight to get out the Griffin Book

  • I would worry more about being taken out into the back alley and having my legs broken. Casinos don't like people winning their money. He was lucky to only be arrested.
  • Suppose, just suppose, you discover that if you tap three times on the side of an old-fashioned one-armed bandit, at a specific place and a specific speed, it pays off!

    So you do this ten thousand times, win ten thousand dollars. And the casino finds out.

    What's the charge? Wire fraud?

    Nooo .. they'll grit their teeth, buy you a drink, and yank every damned one of those machines offline until they get the bug fixed.

    So what's different now with this software glitch? And why blame the clever guy who discovere

  • This bug reminds me of one in Baldur's Gate -- to activate a scroll or item or something your characrer normally couldn't, pause the game, go into the backpack and click on an item to activate it, then swap its spot with the item you really wanted to activate.

    On pressing go, the lockout check had already been performed, but the swapped item activates.

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