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Prisoners build PCs from stolen parts then apply for credit cards in fellow inmate's name

13 April 2017  |  8754 views  |  0 Security

A pair of enterprising American prisoners managed to steal enough spare parts from a work programme to put together two computers, which they hid in a closet ceiling and used for various escapades, including to apply for credit cards in another inmate's name.

According to a report (PDF) from the Ohio Inspector General, Marion Correctional Institution prisoners Adam Johnston and Scott Spriggs used their homemade PCs to apply for the credit cards with a stolen identity, investigate tax fraud, make passes to get access to unauthorised areas of the prison, download porn, and view information on manufacturing drugs and explosives.

The pair obtained their parts through a prison green initiative, which saw inmates disassemble old electronic equipment for recycling. After getting together enough parts to build their PCs, they hid them on a plywood board in a closet.

Then they used ethernet cables to hook up the computers to the prison network, logging in with credentials nabbed from a former prison staffer who then worked as a contractor.

Once on the network, the duo looked through prison records, using one crook's Social Security number and date of birth to apply for credit cards, some of which were approved and mailed to one of the pair's mother.

The computers were also used to download TV shows, music and porn, which was then passed around to other prisoners on a thumb drive.

A forensic analysis of the hard drives also found "a large hacker's toolkit" and "findings of bitcoin wallets, stripe accounts, bank accounts, and credit card accounts [which] point toward possible identity fraud, along with other possible cyber-crimes".

The scam was uncovered when an automated email informed the prison that a computer tied to the stolen login credentials had exceeded its daily internet usage threshold. This was followed by alerts about an unauthorised computer trying to hack through proxy servers. The PCs were then found via the network switch they were connected to.

Johnston, Spriggs and three others found to be involved in the scam have been separated and moved to different facilities.

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