MP3 Player Robs ATM

    November 16, 2006

Technology has allowed criminals to become more creative in their methods of robbery, as a United Kingdom gang member managed to steal credit card secrets of ATM users with an ordinary MP3 player.

United Kingdom gang member Maxwell Parsons had an accomplice in his robbery of credit card information from ATM’s around London: an MP3 player. In the aftermath of a robbery using such a common device in a place where we believe money is secure, the question begs: can anyone with an MP3 player do this?

Using any digital music player, criminals can record data from freestanding ATM cash machines. Using a separate computer program, the data is converted into numbers.

Unplugging the bank’s phone line from a BT white socket, inserting a two-way adaptor, and placing the device between the output cable and phone socket, enables the MP3 player to receive the credit card information of bank users.

The MP3 player would then record the sounds, which are similar to a dial-up Internet modem or fax machine.

Sound emitted from the line is then interpreted using a modem line tap, or passed through a Ukrainian computer software program which is illegal to purchase.

After the data was converted, Parsons was able to extort more than 200, 000 pounds, or $380, 000 American dollars using credit card information stolen from the ATM.

These steps seem fairly simple; probably anyone with the slightest bit of technological knowledge and an MP3 player could carry them out. There are even websites that offer ATM hacking how-to’s and sites which sell ATM skimmers, as well as other devices used in the robbery of the cash machines.

Even using a simple computer program of the ATM’s user manual, a Virginia Beach man was able to reprogram ATM’s to dispense more money than was debited to him.

Thankfully, to prevent any further illegal acquisition of credit card information or cash from ATM’s, several manufacturers like Tranax Technologies, have created a patch that “forces installers to change the default password before it goes into service”, says a representative of the company.

The 41-year-old ATM hacker is a well-known criminal in the U.K.; certainly his legend will sail across the pond to the United States, inspiring American criminals to extract credit card information from ATM’s using their MP3 player.

After all, Parsons himself learned how to execute the fraud from Malaysian gang members who, using an MP3 player, devastated the Malaysian banking system.

Bank users everywhere can only hope that there is not a rash of ATM hackings before protective software is installed.

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Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.