Two Venezuelans (One Illegal) Sentenced In ATM Scheme
Two Venezuelan natives, one of whom is an illegal alien, were sentenced to prison terms in a bank larceny fraud scheme known as 'jackpotting'.
Christian Eduardo Zerpa-Ruiz, 32, and Ragde Hussein Pinto-Coronado, 24, both of Venezuela, were sentenced to federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank larceny. Zerpa-Ruiz was sentenced to 51 months in prison, Pinto-Coronado was sentenced to 15 months in prison, and both were ordered to pay restitution.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Zerpa-Ruiz and Pinto-Coronado are members of a Venezuelan crime syndicate. "Jackpotting" is a hacking scheme where bank and credit union automated teller machines are robbed by infecting their hard drives with malware. This allows the criminal to take command of the machines and forces the infected ATM to dispense cash similar to hitting a jackpot on a casino slot machine. This kind of crime is relatively new. The U.S. Attorney's office says it was first reported in the United States in January 2018.
In the same release, it says "Zerpa-Ruiz and Pinto-Coronado successfully jackpotted four ATMs in Indiana, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, and stole approximately $125,000 in cash. They were arrested on March 15, 2018, while attempting to jackpot an ATM in St. Joseph, Michigan containing more than $43,000."
Pinto-Coronado is in the United States illegally. Zerpa-Ruiz came to the United States on a tourist visa in late January 2018, and began jackpotting in February 2018.
In imposing the sentences, Judge Janice Neff during sentencing said this type of crime is a “chillingly sophisticated” use of technology that “strikes at the integrity of the financial system of the entire country.” She said she was “astounded” and “troubled” that Zerpa-Ruiz and Pinto-Coronado were able to “come into the country and attack the financial system in this way.” - U.S. Attorney's office release
“Criminals continue to exploit new types of technology to attack our nation’s financial institutions,” U.S. Attorney for Western Michigan Andrew Birge said.