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Man sentenced to 3 years for ATM hack scheme

Attempted heist worth $200,000

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A North Carolina man has been sentenced to three years in prison after admitting he planned to pocket as much as $200,000 by hacking into automatic teller machines.

Thor Alexander Morris, 20, targeted at least 35 ATMs in the Houston area that were vulnerable to attacks that let hackers administer them, according to court documents filed in the case. Once he took control, he planned to reprogram the machines to overpay him by changing the cash denominations for $20 bills to $1 bills. He pleaded guilty to the offense in January.

Morris's undoing came when he approached a Texas-based ex-con looking for help identifying the locations of specific models of ATMs that are known to be vulnerable to the hack. The ex-con gave federal investigators a CD containing chat transcripts, photos of Morris, and other evidence. To disguise himself, Morris donned a wig fashioned after one worn by 80s pop star Rick James.

Morris on Tuesday was sentenced to 37 months without parole by US District Judge Vanessa Gilmore. He has been permitted to remain on bond pending the issuance of an order to surrender to a Board of Prisons facility. ®

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