hotwiring

If crime didn’t pay, there wouldn’t be any criminals.  Throughout history, the successful criminals have used technology to stay above and beyond the law, developing new techniques to hedge their bets and avoid arrest.  While some tech masterminds have escaped the long arm of the law, most have still failed.  Meet the 10 most amazing high tech crimes– and the fate of the criminals that pulled them off.

Editor’s Noteif you enjoy this, be sure to check out our companion list of the 10 Amazing Tech-Assisted Arrests.

WANK Worm Bugs NASA

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When NASA laid out plans to launch the nuclear-powered, unmanned Galileo spacecraft on a mission to Jupiter, protesters feared that the radioactive vibes could harm the Earth. But instead of merely grumbling about it, a group dubbed “Worms Against Nuclear Killers” hacked into NASAs systems and presented scientists with the image pictured above. The hack also tricked employees into thinking their files were being deleted, and spit random messages promoting anarchy and decrying the government. Cultural references in those messages suggest that the hackers came from Australia, but no one knows for sure.

$1.3m Made in “Easy” Roulette Scam

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In 2004, a trio of cheating roulette players raked in £1.3 million from a British casino. Reports suggest that they used mobile phones fitted with laser scanners, calculating the likely position of the ball based on the speed of the wheel. That’s pretty clever on its own, but one physicist told New Scientist that there’s an easier way: Use the phone as a stopwatch, click it once when the wheel starts spinning and again after a revolution, and use a formula to calculate the outcome. Either way, the group was arrested, because you can’t win millions in a day at the casino without drawing some suspicion.

High-Tech Gadgets Aide Massive Poker Run

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Aided by a camera up his sleeve, a tiny earpiece and a pair of accomplices, Yau Yiv Lam won $250,000 playing poker at six casinos. One of the cohorts, in a remote location, played back the video in slow motion to see the cards before they hit the table. Then, his person relayed the information to a veteran player that was in on the heist. Alas, it was too successful; casino staff called out the other player and caught the crooks red-handed. One officer said cheating like this is otherwise “extremely difficult” to prove.

ATM Scam Yields $9M

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This isn’t your typical scan job, in which a single ATM is fitted with a camera for identity theft. This is a hack involving RBS WorldPay, which serves workers around the world with a direct-to-debit payroll system. Last November, someone hacked it, stole the information need to make clone ATM cards and lifted the withdrawl limits on those accounts. In a matter of hours, dozens of henchmen hit over 130 ATMs around the world, pulling out cash over and over again until $9 million was stolen. Police had no suspects as of early February.

Spy Gear Used to Cheat on Immigration Test

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The “Life in the UK” test — the last step on the path to British citizenship — can be a daunting task, particularly if you don’t speak English. Last year, police caught two men making it easier by transmitting the answer over an earpiece. The test takers inside paid the men for their services and used a buttonhole camera to transmit the answers. When police found the masterminds in a nearby a BMW filled with high-tech equipment, they originally thought an ATM card-skimming scam was at work. Then, they realized the men could be part of a network that helps immigrants cheat on their tests. The perps will spend eight months in jail, and the men inside taking the exam, they were sentenced to 180 hours of community service.

Crowdsourcing Crime on Craigslist

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After taking control of an armored truck by subduing the driver with pepper spray last September, a perpetrator in Monroe, Wash., needed to cover his tracks. Fortunately, he thought ahead by hiring decoys on Craigslist. The job ad offered $28.50 per hour for road maintenance work for anyone who could show up near the Bank of America wearing a yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask and a blue shirt if possible. Roughly a dozen guys showed up, sporting the very outfit the robber was wearing. In a surprising switch to low-tech, the man then escaped down the river via innertube. Police eventually caught up to him in November using DNA evidence.

Infrared Aides Jaguar Break-In

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Ever worry that your car’s remote lock system might not be foolproof? In 1999, at least, there was good reason for concern. Using an infrared transceiver, someone copied the keyless entry signal on a Jaguar in England and opened up the car to steal the Rolex watch inside. One wireless security expert said the trick could be done with a £15 device, or made at home for about £2. Even Palm Pilots and other PDAs could be manipulated into break-in tools. Improvements to the technology have since made this crime much more difficult, but with keyless systems expanding to include ignition, it’s also more tempting.

Walkie-Talkies and Hot-Wiring in Tech Robbery

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It’s the sum of its parts that makes this tech-assisted 1997 heist impressive. In order to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in Lexmark printers, a band of criminals hotwired a tractor and used it to pull two huge in front of the yard where the goods were held. This blocked a view from the road while two men ordered in a pair of rental trucks by walkie-talkie. Another man kept lookout and monitored police band radio while the other guys loaded up the stash. It was like butter, and just one of many burglaries that had high-tech companies concerned in the late 1990s.

Tunnel-Digging Operation Had All the Comforts of Home

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In one of the largest bank burglaries of all-time, a gang of criminals dug an 80-meter tunnel into Brazil’s Banco Central from a nearby house. This wasn’t just a shovel job; along the way, the burglars installed air conditioning and rudimentary lighting in the tunnel. At the end of their trip, they had to drill through a meter of steel-enforced concrete. They broke into the bank with no guns and no fuss, and stole 3.5 tons of money, valued at almost $70 million. In the end, though, one of the suspected accomplices was kidnapped and murdered, and police arrested 13 others.

“Mission Impossible Burglar” Makes Like Tom Cruise

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Though we don’t know if Steven Jay Kreuger had to avoid any floor-activated security systems, he certainly had a penchant for Hollywood-style burglaries. With the help of sophisticated cutting tools, ropes and a strong upper body, Kreuger broke into Laptop Solutions in Irvine, Calif., from the roof, climbing down to pull out $300,000 worth of wireless modems. This was after he used a grappling hook to get onto the roof. Police nabbed Kreuger in 1998, but a press release from 2006 suggests that he’s out of jail and at it again. His new thing, allegedly, is cutting through metal roll up doors and stealing computer memory and laptops from industrial complexes.

Thanks for reading, GearCravers, Diggers, Stumblers, Redditers and otherwise!  What did you think of our list of high tech crimes?  Do any stand out to you as criminally brilliant– or criminally stupid?  Could you have pulled off any of these better on your own?  Let us know what you think in the comments.  In the mean time, we could certainly use your help– if you’ve got a minute, send this to a friend or two who you think might like it, and feel free to give us a vote in your favorite social news website.  Thanks for reading!

Editor’s Noteif you enjoy this, be sure to check out our companion list of the 10 Amazing Tech-Assisted Arrests.