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The Almighty Buck Crime News

ATM Repairman Accused of Taking (and Faking) Cash 258

fysdt writes "An ATM repairman was nabbed in Phoenix on charges of having stolen about $200,000 in ATM funds. His method was almost brilliant in its sheer stupidity: He pocketed the cash, and replaced it in the machines with 'counterfeit or photocopied $20 bills.'"
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ATM Repairman Accused of Taking (and Faking) Cash

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  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:15AM (#36262514)
    Go to ATM... Spit out money... "Yep, the dollar ain't what it used to be..."
  • If he'd been a little smarter, it sounds like it could've been a good way to get half-decent counterfeits out into they system without them being noticed. If the guy was really throwing photocopies in there, though, I don't know what he was expecting to happen.

    • Re:Photocopied? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:33AM (#36262812) Journal
      To be fair, he was a Diebold employee. He probably assumed that there was no fraud sufficiently blatant to be punished for.

      More realistically, he was probably an opportunist, possibly with a newfound need for fast cash, and good counterfeit currency, while certainly not impossible to make or obtain, is not something you can just get ahold of in a moment. Were a sophisticated counterfeiting operation looking for a dispersal method, an ATM service dude might be a useful 'hire'. A random ATM service dude probably doesn't know how to just look up the local counterfeiters...
    • Re:Photocopied? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:55AM (#36263080) Homepage

      No, if he was smarter he would have grabbed a couple of million then gone to the Bahamas.

      As a police friend of mine says, if you're going to commit a crime, do it just once and make it worthwhile. The people who get caught are the ones who have to keep going back to do it again.

      • Re:Photocopied? (Score:4, Informative)

        by ATestR ( 1060586 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @11:20AM (#36263448) Homepage

        The ATM machines don't hold that much. I know... I did some pick-up work as an ATM messenger (read: guy who stuff's money in and takes deposits out) for a while after the dot.Bomb. Typical bank ATM might hold $200K in $20's if it was full. The little ATMs that you find in a Walmart or 7-11 are maxed out at $60K.

      • As a police friend of mine says, if you're going to commit a crime, do it just once and make it worthwhile.

        A police officer not only encouraging crime, but encouraging BIG crime. Fantastic.

      • Makes sense. If you have to do it twice, you double your odds of getting caught. OTOH, if you're a pro and do thousands of crimes per second then the incremental odds of getting caught are negligible. That's why the best criminals are corporations.

        • by bcmm ( 768152 )

          If you have to do it twice, you double your odds of getting caught.

          Not how probability works.

    • The guy is in Phoenix, so it doesn't surprise me. I live there, and I can't wait to move out. This town is full of con artists, scammers, MLMs, and meth-heads (I'm probably being a little redundant here), and highly lacking in people who do real work for a living.

      Seriously, the guy is probably a meth addict, and in his euphoria didn't see why he would get caught.

  • by Spectre ( 1685 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:22AM (#36262614)

    Geez, he has $200,000 in cash and can't make bail? He should have asked the arresting officer to stop by an ATM on his way to jail ...

  • Aren't color photocopiers supposed to give an error message when you try to copy a banknote?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Shrike82 ( 1471633 )
      Yes, they look for the EURion constellation [wikipedia.org] and refuse to copy anything with it in. Modern scanners also block attempts to reproduce anything with the pattern. Obviously there are ways round this, but it probably puts off casual attempts at counterfeiting by morons and curious kids.
  • by 6Yankee ( 597075 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:30AM (#36262770)
    An ATM guy called Kioskli. Classic.
  • Bitcoin, faked cash in ATMs etc?


  • My Dad always told me there was a little man in the ATM printing the money it spit out!
  • He's accused of stealing $200k, but his bail was put at only $25k? Which Wall Street investment group manager is he related t?
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      A) It's just bail. Bail has to do with risk of fleeing not punishment for a crime.
      B) He probably pissed the money away as fast as he got it
      C) 175K is't really enough money to go into hiding for any sizable period of time.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      Apparently the bail was enough to keep him in jail, so why should it have been any more? How high do you think it should have been? Sure, he stole $200K, but where is it? They're not going to let him out of jail so he can go dig up some of his money and come back with the cash to pay his bail. And he can't really ask his wife to go get it for him, because he ditched her as soon as he stole the money.

  • The people who withdrew money from this ATM will probably never get their money back, since customers are always fully liable for ATM transactions. The banks will just write it off as a loss, which comes right out of their customers checking accounts. Worse, if the people don't notice they'll even be held responsible for trying to pass of counterfeit bills they thought were real.
    • The bank would probably lose more money from pissed off customers. $200,000 is a drop in the bucket to them.
    • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Friday May 27, 2011 @11:10AM (#36263310) Homepage Journal

      You're crazy. We've reversed transactions at ATMs with our bank [pnc.com] where the ATM didn't spit out the money but marked it as a successful transaction; they gave us a temporary credit and a month later sent us a letter saying their investigation found that our report was accurate and that the credit was now permanent. With something like this, I'd imagine the investigation would be pretty easy; just track which machines the guy refilled.

      C'mon. There's cynical and then there's not doing the research.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:41AM (#36262930) Homepage

    Some years ago, I worked for a company (two companies actually) centered around the ATM vending machine service. While there, I learned how trivial it actually is to rob ATMs. While I am certain the technologies and security protocols involved have evolved beyond my previous knowledge of the time, most ATMs were a small terminal with a cash dispenser and connected to "the network" by a simple dialup modem which operated over the public POTS network. By using a device called a "skuch" box which simulated POTS networking, modems and other such things such as a laptop with transaction processing software simulating the ATM authorization network, a person could connect to a local ATM terminal, run simulated transactions and dispense real cash in massive amounts without raising a great deal of suspicion from most shops and stores which host ATMs.

    As I said, my knowledge is "OLD." I am pretty sure the are now using other communications technologies such as wireless networks and such, but given that it has been shown how trivial taking over or creating your own local GSM network actually, is, adapting the previously described methods to current technologies would not only be easier, but could be done wirelessly from a "service van" close by. (I observe that many businesses still authorize credit card transactions over POTS so it seems to me that ATM debit transactions are still done over POTS as well, so many the old methods are still valid in some places.)

    But you get the idea -- ATMs are cash dispensers controlled by highly vulnerable computers operating over highly vulnerable networks.

    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      I'd like to think that the connection between the ATM and whatever it talks to is encrypted with something straightforward and effective like an SSL connection with preshared keys to prevent a trivial attack like you describe above, but I've been shocked and dismayed at security in the financial world too many times to be completely surprised if this is not the case. This is the industry that thinks the signature on the back of a credit card is some sort of security measure.
      • You would like to think that, but no. Very often, transaction processing goes through several networks and agents along the way. And each of them take a portion of the [often ridiculous] fee you get charged for every transaction. Some segments of the processing network get as little as 5 cents per transaction while others collect a quarter. But if you imagine that it is one ATM programmed to talk to one end point, you would be sadly mistaken. It's far more complex than that.

    • You'd think they'd be using public key encryption to verify both the machine and the ATM network (which would mean, if done right, it wouldn't matter what transport you used).

      • They just aren't as smart as you give them credit for. This is Diebold and similar companies we are talking about -- they can't create a system that adds one to a number reliably (voting machine) let alone a secure cash vending system.

        The cash vending system has MANY players and providers involved. And an ATM owner needs to be able to change carriers at will for various reasons including transaction providers going out of business or shopping for a lower transaction fee.

        BTW, owning a fleet of ATMs is a lu

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Just to emphasize how bad ATM security is likely to be, most ATMs are made by Diebold. Yes, that Diebold [tmcnet.com].

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I had dinner with a guy who ran the ATM operations for a major Midwest bank about various schemes to defraud ATMs.

      I remember in the 1980s seeing ATMs from his bank at the student union with exposed modems and I asked him explicitly about faking transactions. His response was that even back then they were running 3DES between ATM and bank and that it would have been pretty much impossible.

      He says the best technique was and is just stealing the entire ATM and breaking into it at your convenience, which he sai

  • Say what you want about Asynchronous Transfer Protocol, it ain't gonna do the job of regular Ethernet. Someone along the way is going to nab all the good packets and replace them with fake packets. There is no protection against the man-in-the-middle for ATM.
  • Fractions (Score:5, Funny)

    by travdaddy ( 527149 ) <travoNO@SPAMlinuxmail.org> on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:50AM (#36263032)
    If he wanted to steal from the bank, here's a better, technical solution:

    Every time there's a bank transaction where interest is computed, you know, thousands a day? The computer ends up with these fractions of a cent, which it usually rounds off. Just take those little remainders and put them into an account.

    There were a couple movies where this was done and it worked brilliantly.
  • by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @11:35AM (#36263618) Homepage
    This makes me wonder if maybe some of the many counterfeiters I have seen were telling the truth. Years ago when I worked at a gas station we would get people trying to pass counterfeit bill a few times a month. I noticed that people passing them fell into one of 3 categories:
    • 1. Legitimately didn't know they had a counterfeit bill
    • 2. Claimed they got the bill from the casino
    • 3. Claimed they got the bill from the bank/ATM

    Those in category 1 would usually be annoyed that they had funny money but would be cooperative. The other 2 categories no so much. Very often these people would become belligerent and when informed that I would be bringing in the police would get threatening. The worst case was one individual who had tried to pass a counterfeit $100 bill that he had run off on his home ink jet printer. The colors were all wrong, incorrect weight, incorrect texture, was cut wrong (used scissors), missing the water mark, missing security strip, and also failed the counterfeit detector pen.He insisted that the bill was real as he had just gotten it from the ATM (our ATM only Dispensed $20s) and that he had a wallet full of them now, yes he really did show me a pile of counterfeit $100s. When informed that I was calling the cops he threatened me stormed off. The nice thing was that the Eagan police station was only a couple of blocks down the road. So while I was calling the police he was stuck at the light waiting to turn right heading towards the police station. I was able to give the police a complete description of the person, car description, and license plate number. The picked him up about half way between the gas station and police station.

  • Seriously. The old Diebold ATM at my little local bank plays a short mechanical tune with a trill at the end when dispensing cash. What is this? No one has ever been able to answer this question.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead