It is often said that crime does not pay but if that was true, there would probably be fewer people committing illegal acts. The thing about crime is that when a perpetrator is caught, it’s supposed to come to an end.
The idea is that once the criminal is behind bars they are done with crime because, really, what else can they do? It turns out the crime spree does not have to end there, however, as the Idaho Department of Corrections has learned.
In this case the crime was essentially victimless and it was a digital theft. But like most crime sprees, the perpetrators eventually got caught.
Making life behind bars better
The issue was spread across five different prisons, where inmates took advantage of a flaw in their JPay tablets that led to them stealing nearly $225,000 worth of credits. The scheme was discovered earlier this month and, in all, 364 prisoners were involved.
One inmate was found to have transferred nearly $10,000 into their account. While this involved currency, no taxpayer money was involved.
The JPay credits are used to buy various things, such as music, games, eBooks and stamps, which are used to buy email and inbound video messages. The credits can even be used to buy JPay tablets, which are used to stay up-to-date on news as well as view photos, videos and educational materials.
Jeff Ray, who is a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Correction, said in a statement that this was “intentional” and that the theft “required a knowledge of the JPay system and multiple actions by every inmate who exploited the system’s vulnerability to improperly credit their account.”
While the one inmate “stole” $10,000 worth of credits, another 50 added more than $1,000 to their respective accounts. The prisoners communicated with each other regarding how to exploit the JPay system, which is what allowed it to spread as far as it did.
So what happens next?
Inmates who were involved were at the Idaho State Correctional Institution, Idaho State Correctional Center, Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino, South Idaho Correctional Institution and the Correctional Alternative Placement Plan facility, which is operated by a private prison company called MTC Inc.
Upon learning of what was going on, JPay blocked the inmates from downloading music and games until the money is repaid. So far JPay has gotten back more than $65,000 worth of credits, which is a good number but not even close to all of what was taken.
Prisoners who were involved are still allowed to use email, but that’s the technology side of things. Officials are likely to take away some privileges from inmates who were involved, while they may also be seen as a higher security risk.