close up, fingers interacting with tablet

Inmates Hack Prison Tablets, Transfer Nearly $225k Into Own Account

This story is from July 2018

TV shows like Prison Break have shown us that inmates can escape prison if they use their brains. However, in reality, modern prisoners are different. According to a prison statement from 2018 from officials in Boise, Idaho, around 365 residents of the prison had hacked the JPay tablets that the prison uses. The prisoners then transferred around $225k to their own accounts. [1]

Jeff Ray, the spokesman for the Department of Correction in Idaho, stated that an SPU had been created for this crime. They had discovered that this hacking and cyber looting didn’t involve any taxpayer dollars. For those who are unaware, JPay is a service that is usually provided to prisoners. This technology allows prisons to facilitate video visitation, send emails, and even transfer money. The service can also be utilized to deposit money through debit and credit payments into the account of an inmate.

The tablets have been getting quite popular throughout prisons all over the country. As such, they were also available to the inmates of the prison through a leveraged contract between JPay and CenturyLink. The Associated Press asked both of the companies for comment- but neither responded. Kimberlee Kruesi then tweeted about the incident, stating, “Idaho prison officials say 364 inmates hacked the Jpay tablets they use for email, music, and games, and collectively transferred nearly a quarter million dollars into their own accounts.

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Ray also stated that the inmates were “intentionally exploiting a vulnerability within JPay to improperly increase their JPay account balances.” As it turns out, close to 50 inmates had been crediting their accounts with sums exceeding $1,000. Incidentally, one inmate had credited a massive sum of $10,000. 

The inmates that are involved in this cyber robbery were housed at the Idaho State Correctional Center, the Idaho State Correctional Institution, the Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino, the Correctional Alternative Placement Plan facility, and the South Idaho Correctional Institution.

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Two Inmates From Ohio Managed To Hack The Prison Network To Download Porn

But this isn’t the only case of prison hacking. A 2017 report stated that two inmates in Ohio hacked the facility’s network to download porn and apply for credit cards. The prisoners had created the computer through discarded electronics and also managed to hide it in a closet ceiling. But in 2015, the IT department found out that a computer in their network had been routinely exceeding its usage limit daily.

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Within a few days of investigation, the IT team managed to figure out which port this PC was plugged into. Gene Brady, an IT staffer stated, “I was able to follow the cable to a closer in the small training room. When I removed the ceiling tiles I found 2 PCs hidden in the ceiling on 2 pieces of plywood.

After forensic experts were called to the scene, it was discovered that this was the work of two inmates. They were Adam Johnston and Scott Spriggs. The experts also stated that the prisoners had been using the computer for months without being detected. The prisoners had also been able to gain access to the Department Offender Tracking System of the state. They used it to steal the personal information of at least a single inmate. 

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The spot in the ceiling in the Ohio prison where the two inmates hid the computer.
Image Credits: Ohio Inspector General

After that, it was discovered that they had been downloading porn and several other forms of media. And this was compounded with a variety of hacking tools. While researching ways of making cash, they chanced upon “a Bloomberg Business article on tax refund fraud describing how a criminal with valid Social Security numbers, dates of births, bank account information, addresses, and an internet connection can illicitly obtain tax refunds loaded onto prepaid cards.

Keep Reading: Woman sentenced to 65 years in prison for stealing over $200K from her employer over 2 years

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Sources

  1. Inmates hack prison tablets, transfer nearly $225k into own accounts.” AJC.Cox Media Group National Content Desk. July 26, 2018.
  2. Two Ohio inmates hacked their prison from the inside using makeshift computers built from spare parts.” QZ. Keith Collins. April 14, 2017.
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