US Makes First Arrests of Suspects Behind ATM Jackpotting Attacks

Haythem Elmir

US authorities have made arrests of several suspects they believe are behind the first ATM jackpotting incidents in the US.

Law enforcement officials arrested four suspects last October and November, and apprehended another two at the end of last month, January 2018.

Investigators believe these six men have infected ATMs with malware that makes the devices spit out cash —an attack commonly referred to as « ATM jackpotting. »

First arrests

The first arrests took place in Wyoming last October. Local newspaper Oil City News reported that police arrested four men —Elio Moreno Gonzalez, Jose Alejandro Osorio Echegaray, Isaac Rafael Jorge Romero, and Aslhy Javier Galeano Basurto.

According to an affidavit, local police arrested the first two when officers smelled marijuana smoke coming out of a parked van during a routine patrol. In a subsequent search of the vehicle, officers found several backpacks of cash.

With the help of the FBI, investigators linked the two to various ATM robbery incidents, which turned out to be instances of ATM jackpotting attacks.

Video footage showed the suspects utilizing a phone and a mini-keyboard to obtain money from the ATM, instead of brute-force methods. Video footage also helped officers identify the other two persons participating in the robberies.

The two suspects provided details on other two partners, and police arrested the latter —of Venezuelan nationaility— a month later, in November, when they returned a rental car in San Diego.

Second arrests

In a separate incident, two other suspects were arrested in Connecticut at the end of last month. The two — Spanish national Alex Alberto Fajin-Diaz, 31, and Argenys Rodriguez, 21, of Springfield, Massachusetts— were arraigned in court on Monday.

According to an affidavit, the two are suspected to have infected ATMs with the Ploutus malware. Authorities have linked the two to jackpotting attacks on ATMs in the Connecticut cities of Cromwell, Hamden, and Guilford; but also in Providence, Rhode Island.

Video surveillance footage showed Fajin-Diaz and Rodriguez interacting with ATMS dressed as repair technicians.

On January 27, employees of Citizens Bank’s Cromwell branch notified police of an ATM jackpotting attack. Later in the day, police officers caught the two suspects in the middle of an ATM jackpotting attack, while the ATM was dispensing $20 bills.

Officers found $9,000 in $20 bills and equipment needed to carry out ATM jackpotting attacks in the suspects’ car, which was also utilizing a license plate issued to another vehicle.

The two now face up to 30 years in prison, each.

Just a day before police arrested Fajin-Diaz and Rodriguez, Diebold Nixdorf —a top ATM vendor— issued a security alert regarding ATM jackpotting attacks reaching the US.

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