Moron tries scamming with a fake ATM at Defcon

Epic fail of the day

SOME MORON TRIED to plant a fake cash machine at Defcon 17. In case it isn’t obvious, trying to pull off a computer scam at a computer security event is not the brightest thing you can do.

Priest, the local high ranking Goon (Defcon security) told us the sad tale of the fake ATM earlier today. The first thing that should be said is that it was not planted by a Defcon attendee, it was most likely done by local criminals, likely even organized criminals. They came into the hotel some time in the past, and stuck a fake ATM right beside the, wait for it, the Rivera Hotel security office. Scams like this are very common in Las Vegas, so be very careful if you use an unbranded ATM.

To use D&D terms, it is a classic case of Int 18, Wis 3. The scammers were able to make a fake looking ATM, complete with a PC inside, fake but functional screens, and a card reader to skim data. That was the Int 18 side. The simple fact that they placed it before a computer security event means the Wisdom side was more than a bit lacking.

It was placed by the security office not because they wanted to thumb their noses at the authorities, but because it is in an easily accessible area that has no camera coverage. People came up to the machine and put their cards in, and got an error message back. 99.9% of people would just shrug and move on.

Then again, this is Defcon, and people think about security. One of the attendees noticed that the glass over the camera was too dark. If the glass is too light, you can see the camera, too dark, and the camera can’t see you. This glass was said to be so dark the camera could not possibly see out.

The attendee was said to have pulled out his handy high powered flashlight and peered into the ‘ATM’. Instead of a camera or ATM guts, he saw a PC. Time to call the cops, which is exactly what he did. It didn’t take long for the area to become a crime scene, and now there is no more ATM beside the Rivera security office.

Moral of the story, be very careful when and where you use your ATM card. If anything looks amiss, run. If you are in Las Vegas, be especially careful, these fake ATMs are said to be spreading like wildfire. Financial crimes like this are much more lucrative and far less likely to be prosecuted than holding someone up on a street corner. Just don’t try it at Defcon if you want your fake cash machine back.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate