2 Venezuelans sentenced for ‘jackpotting’ ATMs

Posted at 10:54 AM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-14 10:54:24-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Two members of a crime syndicate from Venezuela have been sentenced for “jackpotting” an ATM machine in St. Joseph, Michigan.

Christian Eduardo Zerpa-Ruiz, 32 and Ragde Hussein Pinto-Coronado, 24, were sentenced to federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank robbery. Zerpa-Ruiz will spend 51 months in prison and Pinto-Coronado will spend 15 months in prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says the duo are part of a Venezuelan crime syndicate that robbed bank and credit union ATMs with a hacking scheme called “jackpotting.” Using sophisticated technology, they would infect the hard drives of ATMs with malware, so they could take control of the machines and make them dispense all the cash.

The U.S. Attorney says Zerpa-Ruiz and Pinto-Coronado hit four ATMs in Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin, getting about $125,000.   They were arrested in March 2018 attempting to hack into an ATM in St. Joseph, Michigan.

Investigators say that Pinto-Coronado is in the United States illegally. Zerpa-Ruiz came to the U.S. on a tourist visa in January 2018 and started “jackpotting” in February.

“Jackpotting” was first reported in the U.S. in January 2018.