ATM strikes back

Hot foam may soon send criminals running if they damage ATM. ETH researchers have developed a special film that triggers an intense reaction when destroyed. The idea originates from a beetle that uses a gas explosion to fend off attackers.

Its head and pronotum are usually rusty red, and its abdomen blue or shiny green: the bombardier beetle is approximately one centimetre long and common to Central Europe. At first glance, it appears harmless, but it possesses what is surely the most aggressive chemical defence system in nature. When threatened, the bombardier beetle releases a caustic spray, accompanied by a popping sound. This spray can kill ants or scare off frogs. The beetle produces the explosive agent itself when needed. Two separately stored chemicals are mixed in a reaction chamber in the beetle’s abdomen. An explosion is triggered with the help of catalytic enzymes…

The researchers use plastic films with a honeycomb structure for their self-defending surface. The hollow spaces are filled with one of two chemicals: hydrogen peroxide or manganese dioxide. The two separate films are then stuck on top of each another. A layer of clear lacquer separates the two films filled with the different chemicals. When subjected to an impact, the interlayer is destroyed, causing the hydrogen peroxide and manganese dioxide to mix. This triggers a violent reaction that produces water vapour, oxygen and heat. Whereas enzymes act as catalysts in the bombardier beetle, manganese dioxide has proven to be a less expensive alternative for performing this function in the lab…

While protective devices that can spray robbers and banknotes already exist, these are mechanical systems, explains Stark. “A small motor is set in motion when triggered by a signal from a sensor. This requires electricity, is prone to malfunctions and is expensive.” The objective of his research group is to replace complicated control systems with cleverly designed materials.

Clever, yes? Effective, very likely? Likely to be instituted in the United States? Doubtful – we have enough lawyers and politicians dedicated to making the work environment as safe for criminals as we do for protecting victims.

Huge ATM bank theft crosses 27 countries

In one of the biggest ever bank heists, a global cyber crime ring stole $45 million from two Middle Eastern banks by hacking into credit card processing firms and withdrawing money from ATMs in 27 countries, U.S….

The U.S. Justice Department accused eight men of allegedly forming the New York-based cell of the organization, and said seven of them have been arrested. The eighth, allegedly a leader of the cell, was reported to have been murdered in the Dominican Republic on April 27.

The ringleaders are believed to be outside the United States but prosecutors declined to give details, citing the ongoing investigation. What’s clear is the sheer scope and speed of the crimes: in one of the attacks, in just over 10 hours, $40 million was raided from ATMs in 24 countries involving 36,000 transactions…

The case demonstrates the major threat that cyber crime poses to banks around the world. It also shows how increasingly international and sophisticated criminal gangs have become, particularly those using the Internet.

Illustrating the universality of poor practices and incompetent security.

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Crook ran ID theft scam while in Missouri prisons

A former Missouri prison inmate has admitted running an identity theft scheme from behind bars, the U.S Attorney’s office said.

Danwine Dewayne Renard, 47, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to four felony charges: conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud; aiding and abetting bank fraud; and two counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft.

Renard was serving time in various Missouri prisons for check kiting and other charges. For more than two years beginning in July of 2008, Renard advised his co-conspirators via phone calls and letters from prison, prosecutors said.

Renard and others obtained personal information in the name of others and Renard’s co-conspirators used those IDs to open bank accounts in Madison and St. Clair counties and elsewhere, prosecutors said.

They would then deposit bogus checks in the accounts and use ATMs to withdraw money that didn’t really exist. They also wrote bad checks on the accounts, prosecutors said. Losses due to the scheme topped $200,000, court documents show.

When he gets out of prison, next time, he’s going to work for Goldman Sachs. Or Congress.

I doubt if federal regulators or anyone charged with Congressional oversight does their job any better than whoever is supposed to be keeping an eye on Missouri felons.

Thieves use their boobs to distract hapless boob!

Police in France are looking for two attractive female thieves who bared their breasts at a man at a cashpoint to distract him before stealing his money.

The women in their 20s exposed themselves to the victim as he punched his pin code into an ATM machine in Paris.

As he stared at one, the other then withdrew 300 euros from his account before the pair fled with the money.

The incident was captured on CCTV at the cash machine on Paris’s Left Bank, but the women could not be identified, a French police spokesman said.

“We would advise anyone withdrawing cash from a machine to focus on what they are doing and not allow themselves to be distracted, however attractive the view,” the spokesman added.


California welfare debit cards used for million$ at casino ATMs

California welfare recipients using state-issued debit cards withdrew more than $1.8 million in taxpayer cash on casino floors between October 2009 and last month.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order requiring welfare recipients to promise they will use cash benefits only to “meet the basic subsistence needs” of their families. The order also gave the state Department of Social Services seven days to produce a plan to reduce other types of “waste, fraud and abuse” in the welfare program.

The moves came after The Times reported Wednesday that officials at the department failed to notice for years that welfare recipients could use the state-issued cards to withdraw taxpayer cash at more than half of the tribal casinos and state-licensed poker rooms in California. The state initiated the debit card program in 2002.

Casino withdrawals, which represented far less than 1% of total welfare spending during the eight months for which the department released data, averaged just over $227,392 a month.

Schwarzenegger has already ordered the vendor that runs the state welfare system’s ATM network to prohibit the cards from working at casino machines…

No one noticed this was going on for eight years?

As foolish and unproductive is the practice of gambling away your welfare check, the failure of bureaucrats to keep an eye on spending is an example of how useless most “government jobs” become in the United States.

German bank blown up in botched robbery

Yup – that’s the ATM intact – sitting in the debris

Suspected robbers in Germany appear to have miscalculated the quantity of explosives needed to blow their way into a rural bank.

The building housing the bank in the northern village of Malliss was largely destroyed by an overnight explosion.

The bank’s cash machine survived intact and the suspected thieves are not thought to have made away with any money, Germany’s Welt Online reported…

The presence of a delivery van near the site of the explosion indicated that the suspected thieves may have intended to drive off with the cash dispenser, local media reported.

The explosion also set the stolen van on fire – so, they escaped on foot.

In all, not a stunning or successful exploit.

ATM cash machine inventor dies at 84

Undated file photo
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The man credited with inventing the world’s first automatic cash machine has died.

John Shepherd-Barron passed away at the age of 84 on Saturday after being treated for a brief illness at a hospital in northern Scotland.

Shepherd-Barron once said that he came up with the idea after being locked out of a bank, and that his invention was inspired by a machine that dispensed chocolate candy bars.

“It struck me there must be a way I could get my own money, anywhere in the world,” he said in a BBC interview in 2007 to mark the ATM’s 40th anniversary.

I hit upon the idea of a chocolate bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash.”

He later sold his concept for an automatic teller machine, now known as an ATM, to Barclay’s Bank more than 40 years ago…

Today, there are at least 1.7 million ATM machines around the world.

Enough for every novice hacker – or mugger – to practice on.

RTFA. Enjoyable. Bright dude.

Money machine offers gold bars, gold coins, gold and more gold!

It’s the ultimate hole-in-the-wall — a money machine that dispenses pure gold.

But installed beneath the gold-coated ceilings of Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace hotel, where royalty and billionaires come for cappuccinos topped with gold flakes, the machine almost seems part of the furniture.

“The reason we chose Emirates Palace is because it really fits with the surroundings here,” said German entrepreneur Thomas Geissler, creator of the “Gold to Go” brand and chief executive of Ex Oriente Lux.

The exterior of the machine is coated with a thin layer of gold and offers customers 320 items to choose from, ranging from gold bars that can weigh up to 10 grams, to customized gold coins…

Through a computer system, the ATM gold machine updates the gold price every 10 minutes to match international markets.

For now, it takes notes of the local dirham currency, but the option of using credit cards will soon be introduced…

On the first night we had a lot of demand,” he said. “One customer even bought one item of every product we have.”

Where are all the old-fashioned phishing hackers when you need one?