2 men involved in crime syndicate sentenced for ATM thefts

ATM background / (MGN)
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WNDU) – Two men who authorities say are involved with a Venezuelan crime syndicate have been sentenced for infiltrating and stealing cash from ATMs.

Christian Eduardo Zerpa-Ruiz, 32, was sentenced to 51 months in prison and 24-year-old Ragde Hussein Pinto-Coronado was sentenced to 15 months in prison for charges of conspiracy to commit bank larceny. Both were also ordered to pay restitution.

They were involved in "jackpotting," a scheme in which they robbed bank and credit union ATMs by infecting their hard drives with malware. That allowed them to force the machines to dispense all the cash they contained in a short period of time, according to a release from U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan. Jackpotting was first reported in the U.S. in January of this year.

The U.S. attorney's office reports Zerpa-Ruiz and Pinto-Coronado used the scheme to steal about $125,000 in cash from ATMs in Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin. They were arrested on March 15 when they tried to utilize the software on an ATM in St. Joseph, Michigan.

Pinto-Coronado is in the U.S. illegally and Zerpa-Ruiz is in the country on a tourist visa. U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff, who imposed the sentences, said she was "astounded" and "troubled" that they were able to "come into the country and attack the financial system in this way," according to the release.