In a sense, it seems like everybody's dream: an ATM that hands out free money.
But it's no laughing matter when the Department of Justice gets involved.
The U.S Attorney's Office on Thursday charged a Bank of America employee in Charlotte with rigging ATMs to disburse cash. According to the charge, Rodney Caverly "devised a scheme" to deploy a "malicious computer code" to the bank's computers and ATMs, "for the purpose of causing the affected ATMs to make fraudulent and unauthorized disbursements of cash without any transactional computer record of said cash disbursements."
Caverly "accessed one or more protected computer," according to the charge, and obtained cash "in excess of $5,000." The two-page charge says the alleged transactions took place between March 2009 and October 2009, but didn't provide many details.
Shirley Norton, a spokeswoman for the bank, said Bank of America detected the problem through internal controls and notified authorities.
"The fraud here was against the bank," she added. "No customers' accounts were ever at risk."
Most attempts to break into ATMs are through physical force rather than hacking, said Ted Claypoole, an attorney at Womble Carlyle who specializes in technology law related to financial services.
"You would have to be a very sophisticated person to even attempt this, because you have to know that there are 10 levels of accounting and audits and review of what happens on a machine that hands money out," said Claypoole, who is also a former in-house lawyer for Bank of America. "He probably just thought that he knew enough about the various security systems that he could outsmart them."
Caverly's attorney, Chris Fialko, declined to comment. His firm, Rudolf, Widenhouse & Fialko, is well-known for representing clients charged with white-collar crimes.
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