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An Australian pizza store worker turned hacker has avoided prison after he was convicted of stealing A$30,000 ($28,000) from ATMs using computer hacking.

Brian Sommer, 23, reportedly used information from repair manuals downloaded over the internet to hack into the hard discs of ATMs and change the amount that could be withdrawn. Sommer repeatedly looted two cash machines in Harvey Bay, Queensland area over seven months in 2007 before the authorities caught up with him and his accomplices.

The scam, details of which are being withheld, involved the use of genuine debit cards which Sommer obtained from his friends and family.

“He had passwords that enabled him to access the hard drives of the machines,” prosecutor Sarah Klemm told Bundaberg District Court, a Queensland newspaper reports. “He used the machine, accessed the hard drive and changed the settings.”

Sommer's two partners in crime, Roderic Cabanilla Read and Christopher Scott Lockyer, were each sentenced to six months' probation back in December 2007.

Appearing before Judge Anthony Rafter at Bundaberg District Court, Sommer was sentenced to two years' probation, in addition to 100 hours' community service and fined $23,000. Prosecutors who categorised Sommer as the mastermind of the scam had sought to put him behind bars for at least two years.

However, Sommer's age, character references and academic record counted in his favour and helped him to avoid jail.

Sommer's conviction went unrecorded, reportedly so he would be allowed to continue to pursue his ambition of working for the Australian armed forces as an avionics technician. ®

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