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Venezuelan men charged in Utah for “jackpotting” ATMs

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SALT LAKE CITY – It’s a high-tech crime that we don’t see a lot of in Utah, but, seven men are facing federal charges in Utah for “jackpotting” ATM machines here and in other states.

Imagine hitting the jackpot on a slot machine in Vegas, and every dollar the machine has comes out.  Now picture the slot machine was an ATM.  Federal prosecutors say the jackpotting scheme works when one man hacks into an ATM and tricks the machine into giving out every single dollar it has.

“They plug in a computer to the ATM and send code into it to make it spit out money,” according to U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber.

This is not something one man can do by himself.  Huber says the point man had a team of people working with him, and he would usually get help from the others through a group chat.

Huber says, “[The rest are] guiding him through what codes to send and what buttons to push on the laptop to make it come out.”  He adds, “They work as a group in counter-surveillance.  They took turns going to the ATM so it didn’t appear suspicious that anyone was there for a longer than normal time.”

The group reportedly took over $306 thousand out of five ATMs out of Washington and one out of Utah.  They tried to break into two other devices in this state, but weren’t successful.  Huber says they caught one of the suspects red-handed.

“When we took down this case, the FBI took down this case, they were on the phone with a guy outside of our country,” Huber says.

The alleged point man, Josshua Perez Rivas, was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison.  Four others have been charged and two are still outstanding.