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2 Men Have Been Charged With 'Jackpotting' ATM Machines in New England

Dollar bills are taken out of an ATM February 27, 2016 in New York, United States of America. Thomas Trutschel—Photothek via Getty Images

Two men have been charged in connection to the recent “jackpotting” of several ATM machines in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Alex Alberto Fajin-Diaz, 31, a Spanish citizen, and Argenys Rodriguez, 21, of Springfield, Massachusetts were arrested on Jan. 27 when they were found near a compromised ATM with the tools necessary to hack it and make it dispense cash on demand. If found guilty, the two men could spend up to 30 years in prison.

“Jackpotting” refers to a type of attack where a criminal hacks an ATM machine using software or hardware and then remotely forces it to dispense cash on demand. It has been a popular crime in Europe and Asia but, according to the security news site Krebs on Security, was not known to happen in the U.S. until the Secret Service issued a memo to American financial institutions in January warning of the crime. ATM machines can hold as much as $50,000.

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According to the Hartford Courant, the two men allegedly impersonated ATM technicians and hacked a drive-up machine at the Citizens Bank in Cromwell, Conn. A police officer pulled over the two men in their car as they left the scene. A second police officer said he saw the ATM dispense a stack of $20 bills. The car they were driving was later connected to other jackpotting incidents in the region.

The Secret Service has confirmed that criminals have stolen $1 million in the U.S. through this type of attack and said the attacks are likely coordinated and possibly tied to international criminal syndicates. Though the memo said the majority of attacks have targeted stand-alone ATMs in pharmacies, big-box retailers, and drive-through ATMs that run on outdated software, there have also been successful attacks on ATMs running updated software.

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