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Security & privacy

Inmates build PCs, tap prison network to steal IDs and credit cards

You’ve heard a lot about criminals stealing people’s identities to apply for credit cards and tax refunds. But you’ve never heard of a crime like this.

You may even surprise yourself with your own response. Do you admire these criminals’ smarts, or just hate their crime? (Let us know in comments.)

Prisoners in Ohio’s Marion Correctional Institute built their own computers from spare parts. Not only that, once their computers were working, they tapped into the Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction’s network.

They issued passes to inmates to gain access to restricted areas. They also attempted to commit crimes, no surprise.

Investigators ultimately found that the criminals were using their computers to connect to the internet and fraudulently apply for credit cards. The investigators found evidence that the prisoners were doing research on tax fraud, looking for recipes for homemade drugs, and more. Note: Here’s how to avoid being a tax fraud victim.

The prisoners built their computers with spare parts they had access to. Some of the prisoners worked in the prison dismantling electronics for recycling.

A sitcom that’s not funny

This crime was discovered when the prison’s IT department was alerted to someone exceeding their allotted time on the internet. Worse, the IT department noticed that the prisoners were using former employees’ stolen credentials to log in.

Of course, this crime raises serious questions about the prison system and prisoner supervision. Officials in Ohio say the crime occurred because of lax security.

The prisoners were able to transport parts throughout much of the prison, including through supervised checkpoints. They were also able to build the computers, connect cables and log in, seemingly with no one noticing.

It sounds like the plot of an old sitcom. In fact, that’s just what Ohio Inspector General, Randall J. Meyer, told CNN. “Without being checked by security through several checkpoints, it’s almost as if it’s an episode of ‘Hogan’s Heroes.'”

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