What's 'ATM jackpotting'? And why are banks in the suburbs on the lookout for it?

  • The U.S. Secret Service is warning banks across the country about "ATM jackpotting," a scheme in which hackers take control of an ATM and get it to dispense all its cash. So far there have been no reported cases in the Chicago area, but suburban banks are taking steps to protect themselves.

    The U.S. Secret Service is warning banks across the country about "ATM jackpotting," a scheme in which hackers take control of an ATM and get it to dispense all its cash. So far there have been no reported cases in the Chicago area, but suburban banks are taking steps to protect themselves. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

  • Members of the Lake County sheriff's office listen Thursday as former U.S. Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy discusses leadership and overcoming challenges. McCarthy, now the chief of the Orland Park Police Department, was shot in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

    Members of the Lake County sheriff's office listen Thursday as former U.S. Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy discusses leadership and overcoming challenges. McCarthy, now the chief of the Orland Park Police Department, was shot in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. Courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff

 
Updated 2/2/2018 6:16 AM

An ATM spewing out a seemingly endless stream of $20 bills might seem like a dream come true, but for banks "ATM jackpotting" is a new nightmare brought to American shores by international crime syndicates.

The U.S. Secret Service recently warned banks across the country about the sophisticated scheme in which hackers -- often posing as technicians -- install malicious software and/or hardware that allow them to take over the machine remotely. A second person working as part of the crew will return later and drain the ATM of its cash.

 

The thieves are targeting primarily stand-alone ATMs, often in pharmacies or big-box retailers, but they also have hit drive-through ATMs.

The scheme has been around Europe and Asia for years, but confirmed cases of jackpotting in the U.S. began to spring up in recent weeks.

Reuters news service reported Wednesday that criminal organizations already have stolen more than $1 million through jackpotting from ATMs in the U.S.

So far, cases have been reported in California and Texas and on the East Coast. Special Agent Tim Gilroy of the Secret Service's Chicago office told us this week it would be inappropriate to say whether any local banks have been hit.

Tom Ormseth, executive vice president of digital channels and transaction banking at Rosemont-based Wintrust Financial, said he's not aware of any cases in the Chicago area, but financial institutions here are taking steps to protect themselves. Wintrust operates community banks across the Northwest suburbs, including in Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Schaumburg and Palatine.

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"We're very well aware of it and are making sure our machines have the latest software with the latest security features," Ormseth said.

Experts say they see no immediate threat to consumers -- the victims so far have been the financial institutions -- but there are concerns that hackers' success in accessing ATMs could jeopardize individual accounts in the future.

Ormseth said customers who see something suspicious -- like someone trying to access the inside of an ATM -- should contact their bank. Gilroy added that citizens who see something unusual also can call the Secret Service's Electronic Crimes Task Force at (312) 353-5431.

Don't do this

There are some things you just don't do in a courtroom. Like, leaving your cellphone ringer on. Or stepping up to the bench wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a crude slogan. Or accusing the court of taking a bribe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And definitely don't point a gun at the judge.

A Kane County lawyer made that mistake in a high-profile criminal case this week and received a chewing out for it.

As Legal Affairs Write Harry Hitzeman tells us, it happened Tuesday during the trial of St. Charles resident Scott Turyna, charged with the attempted murder of his wife.

During testimony from Steve Spurling, a neighbor who disarmed Turyna, defense attorney Robert Motta asked him to display how he got a .38-caliber revolver away from the accused. During the demonstration, Motta got turned around and ended up pointing the weapon at Judge D.J. Tegeler and his court reporter.

D.J. Tegeler had a stern warning for a defense attorney who inadvertently pointed a gun at him during an attempted murder trial
D.J. Tegeler had a stern warning for a defense attorney who inadvertently pointed a gun at him during an attempted murder trial

"I don't think it's loaded, your honor," Motta said, prompting an agitated Tegeler to call for a brief recess. When the judge returned, he warned attorneys to keep the gun pointed at a wall or the ground. Disobey and be prepared spend Super Bowl Sunday in jail for contempt, he said.

Motta apologized, but Tegeler said, "'I'm sorry' doesn't cut it."

It's not the first time Turyna's defense and Tegeler have tangled in court. In October, Tegeler scolded co-counsel Alison Motta over a remark she made while questioning Turyna's now ex-wife.

Rap sheet

Authenticity can be crucial to success in the world of hip-hop music, but one aspiring rapper is paying a hefty price for being a little too real while shooting a music video in the North suburbs.

Ricardo Burgess, who performs under the name "Nation," was sentenced Tuesday to more than 15 years in federal prison for illegally possessing a handgun during a video shoot at a Deerfield hotel.

Federal prosecutors say Burgess, 31, of Chicago, held two guns in the video while rapping about selling drugs, committing acts of violence and disrespecting law enforcement.

He pleaded guilty in October to one count of illegal possession of a firearm by a felon and one count of distribution of a controlled substance.

As part of his plea agreement, Burgos admitted he had a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol while filming the video. The gun, which had been stolen from a store in Indiana, was used in a shooting in Chicago two days before the filming session, federal prosecutors said.

The drug charge stemmed from allegations Burgos sold 4 grams of crack cocaine and 1.4 grams of heroin to undercover police officers in 2015. U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman gave him a 188-month prison sentence Tuesday.

Former U.S. Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, who in 1981 took a bullet while protecting President Ronald Reagan, visited with Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran and members of his staff Thursday.
Former U.S. Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, who in 1981 took a bullet while protecting President Ronald Reagan, visited with Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran and members of his staff Thursday. - Courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff
Heroes welcome

Timothy McCarthy, the former U.S. Secret Service agent who took a bullet while protecting President Ronald Reagan in 1981, paid a visit to the Lake County sheriff's office on Thursday.

Now chief of the Orland Park Police Department, McCarthy spoke to the sheriff's staff about leadership, encountering challenges, and personal and professional endurance.

McCarthy was shot in the abdomen March 30, 1981, when he threw his body in front of Reagan's during an assassination attempt outside a Washington hotel.

• Got a tip? Send an email to copsandcrime@dailyherald.com or call (847) 427-4483.

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