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FBI thwarts ATM hacking attempt

Thor Alexander Morris has been charged with trying to fraudulently access a protected ATM in order to obtain money from it. Morris approached Brian Martin, who later became an FBI informant, and asked him to place a GPS tracking device on an ATM maintenance worker's vehicle to identify the location and types of specific ATMs. Morris then planned to fly to Houston, Texas, meet Martin, and travel to each ATM machine.

"Morris informed Brian Martin that he had a way to insert a specific password to gain unauthorized access to the ATM machines," said a criminal complaint filed against Morris. Once he had gained access, he planned to change the denominations stored in the ATM software to make the machine think that it contained cartridges of one dollar bills instead of $20 bills.

Morris, who worked as the front-line manager at a retail store, planned to purchase 'Green Dot' prepaid cards from Wal-Mart using a false identity. These cards, which can be used to withdraw money from ATMs, would theoretically have enabled him to withdraw $8000 from a hacked machine, instead of the $400 that they were programmed for.

To prove his knowledge, Morris sent Martin an operation manual describing the key sequence to enter an ATM machine's programming and change the master password. Martin informed the FBI, enabling them to set up a sting operation in which Morris was apprehended.

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