Hitting a jackpot on a slot machine is usually a cause for celebration, at least for the person receiving the windfall of cash. Jackpotting an ATM, however, is highly illegal and can land a person in prison. Case in point, the United States Department of Justice announced it has arrested and charged two men, Alex Alberto Fajin-Diaz and Argenys Rodriguez, with bank fraud stemming from an alleged ATM jackpotting scheme.
In case you have never heard of the term, jackpotting an ATM involves using malware and a direct physical connection to extract large amounts of cash very quickly, usually draining the ATM of every bill inside. The practice of jackpotting has been prevalent at banking institutions across Europe and Asia, but not so much in the US. However, the Secret Service put out a warning last month that jackpotting was starting to make its way stateside.
Local law enforcement agencies have been investigating recent jackpotting attacks on ATMs in Hamden and Guilford, Connecticut, as well as Providence, Rhode Island. Just over a week ago, Citizens Bank investigators contacted police after witnessing what appeared to be a jackpotting attack on an ATM in Cromwell. Police then found 31-year-old Fajin-Diaz, a citizen of Spain, and 21-year-old Rodriguez of Springfield, Massachusetts, near an ATM that had been compromised with jackpotting malware and was spitting out $20 bills.
"A search of Fajin-Diaz and Rodriguez's vehicle, which had a license plate that was assigned to another vehicle, revealed tools and electronic devices consistent with items needed to compromise an ATM machine to dispense its cash contents. Fajiz-Diaz and Rodriguez also possessed more than $9,000 in $20 bills," the DoJ said.
The way the scheme works, jackpotting thieves typically dress up as repair technicians so they can install malware on an ATM without arousing suspicion. Then another individual posing as a customer extracts the cash. It's not clear if that's how the situation played out with Fajin-Diaz and Rodriguez.
If convicted of bank fraud, Fajin-Diaz and Rodriguez would both face a maximum term of 30 years in prison.