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Note To Criminals — Don't Call Tech Support 266

Billosaur writes "Darwin Awards, here he comes: Ars Technica has up a story about a would-be identity thief who did himself in by calling tech support about printer drivers. Timothy Short must have thought he'd hit the mother-lode when he stole a PC and a Digimarc printer from the Missouri Department of Revenue, perhaps with dreams of cranking out thousands of fake ids. Problem: he could not unlock the computer he stole and without the necessary drivers, he couldn't use the printer. Ever resourceful, Short called Digimarc tech support a couple of days later (twice), which brought him to the attention of a Secret Service agent, who recognized his voice from a recording of the calls. Short now faces a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison."
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Note To Criminals — Don't Call Tech Support

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  • Why ?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Saija ( 1114681 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:05PM (#21091343) Journal
    Why the Department of Revenue uses a laptop with sensitive information, making easier to stole than a desktop?
    Inquiring minds want to know...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:06PM (#21091359)
    ...My current province of residence uses a standard Fargo ID printer to crank out Driver's Licenses. I happen to have a Fargo printer for my current workplace.

    It would take NOTHING in terms of effort to crank out fake ID's - hell, the province in question (at least at this point) doesn't even use any fort of hologram or anything to secure the ID.

    I mean, this guy is braindead for calling for tech support to use his stolen goods - but at least through his stupidity & security measures they caught him. If I was an ass, I could easily crank off what I wanted to without anyone being the wiser.

    (Posted as AC, not because I do anything wrong, but I'd rather not have anyone realize the stupidity of this province & take advantage of it just out of my location in profile)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:18PM (#21091531)
    The Australian University of Newcastle Engineering Department once had a undergraduate lab of Sony NEWS BSD Unix workstations [] , possibly one of the first institutions in the country to roll out such a setup. As you may of guessed, the lab was soon broken into and several of the machines stolen.

    About a week later, Sony Australia Support got a call.. from someone asking how they could install MSDOS onto the machines. The Rep handling the NEWS said they could courier and C.O.D replacement diskettes to the caller... got their address, and then said "Actually, could you do me a favour, and please return those stolen computers to the University of Newcastle..."
  • Waaaiiit a minute... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:32PM (#21091719)
    So the Secret Service just happened to be listening to the tech support line, hoping to recognize a criminal voice? I believe this is what they call a "buried lead" - the story should be, Secret Service Listens to Tech Support Lines. I assume, perhaps naively, that the secret service was listening in on the hope that their thief would call, and that they therefore had a warrant, but this un-addressed bit of the story is disturbing to me. My first question was "how did the Secret Service agent hear the voice to begin with?" Maybe he was moonlighting as a phone support monkey.
  • Gary Glitter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe Jay Bee ( 1151309 ) * <jbsouthsea@ g m a> on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:36PM (#21091769)
    Reminds me a bit of former UK pop star Gary Glitter []. His career ended in tatters after a PC World technician discovered child porn on his PC while repairing it. Easily the best example of why criminals shouldn't call tech support (especially when you keep incriminating evidence on your bloody computer...)
  • Re:won't help (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:42PM (#21091853)
    Pretty much anyone with an IQ above 90 figures out before he's 12 that crime does not pay, in the long run, and he goes into other lines of business as an adult.

    No, it's because they think it's wrong. Many forms of crime do pay well.

    Many IT people know a great deal about identity theft, how hard it is to catch, have access to lots of data, and know how to cover their tracks pretty well. It's also a nonviolent offense so you'll probably get off lightly if caught.

  • Re:Why ?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Stooshie ( 993666 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @06:02PM (#21092145) Journal
    It's easy to steal a desktop from a public building. It happened in a local hospital. Two guys dressed in work clothes walked in, found an empty office, took away the desktop and walked out with it. Thankfully they didn't have to worry about opening the door while carrying the equipment. The security guard did that for them!!!
  • by giminy ( 94188 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:03PM (#21092891) Homepage Journal
    I mean, this guy is braindead for calling for tech support to use his stolen goods - but at least through his stupidity & security measures they caught him. If I was an ass, I could easily crank off what I wanted to without anyone being the wiser.

    Actually, almost every printer worth its salt (any color printer that could print money/fake ids/whatever) these days puts a watermark on every document they print. The Secret Service, when they found a fake ID printed with your (company's) printer, would just look up the watermark ID, call the manufacturer, and find out it was printed at your work. A simple check of the printer's logs/q&a session with your network administrator would probably reveal that it was you who did the printing...

    At least if the guy had stolen the printer and not been caught, the SS folks would have had to resort to 'human interactive' methods to track down the fake ID producer. Given this guy's IQ, even if he had gotten the printer working successfully he probably would have been caught (some college student with a fake ID would probably rat on whoever he bought it from in a bargain to get terrorist charges slapped on his record).

  • by citking ( 551907 ) <jay@cit[ ] ['kin' in gap]> on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:04PM (#21092913) Homepage
    When I was working for a small Midwestern university as a network consultant we had a lab machine disappear. It would seem that, the last time the hardware was placed back in the lab, another consultant forgot to run the security cable through the PC's security plate.

    At this particular university the networking equipment we had (DEC repeaters) didn't have the subnetting capabilities to split nthe "business" side of the network from the "student" side of the network. Thus, until the network equipment was to be upgraded over the following summer, students were required to have an Intel, 3Com, or Xircom NICs to reduce the chance of some off-brand card storming the network. Of course, this rule was unpopular with students since these cards tended to cost a bit more than the PowerPipes cards available at Best Buy's bargain bin for $4.99. We kept track of the MAC addresses of students' cards to avoid the "Hey, let me borrow your MAC address" and also had a table that we updated with the first 3 pairs of octets in the MAC address. So, to say we enforced this policy with due diligence is an understatement.

    The machines we had for the people who conducted university business were also equipped with 3Com cards. We always inventoried these machines upon arrival and saved the MAC addresses in the database as well to keep people from borrowing one from the lab machines. Yes, the process was annoying and, as I said, it was eliminated once the network equipment was replaced.

    My boss, the helpdesk manager, tried in vain to search the repeaters for the missing lab machine's MAC address. Finally, one Friday about 2 weeks after the computer disappeared we decided to try again on a lark.

    Bingo! We found the machine coming off of a port in one of the residence halls. A quick call to the university police and we were on our way over to the room where the MAC address was currently being used.

    The guy who was in the room at the time denied having stolen anything and granted the officer permission to search. The officer gave me the go-ahead to open the student's machine and, lo and behold, there was the NIC with our MAC address on it (3Com does an excellent job of putting it top-center for easy reference). The student said that he purchased the card from a store and that it was his and that this whole thing was a huge misunderstanding...

    ...right up until the point where we broke out the UV light and found our university's security stamp on about 3 places on the card.

    After that the student was arrested on the spot. Last I heard he was expelled and was ordered to pay back the $1500 cost of the machine (he had taken a few choice parts and tossed the rest. It was a Gateway; I would have done the same).

    It just goes to show that even the smart ones get caught from time to time. If you're going to steal technology it's probably best to get the hell out of dodge after doing so and NOT call tech support or, in this case, plus a stolen NIC into the network.

  • by glesga_kiss ( 596639 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @08:13PM (#21093657)
    Could be similar to the way cartographers sometimes include deliberate errors in maps such as misspelt streets or a small imaginary cul-de-sac. Helps spot the most obvious knock-offs.
  • by Siridar ( 85255 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @08:59PM (#21094109)
    This is like one I heard about a few years ago...back during the cold war, Western intelligence agents were tripped up because the passports they had forged were perfect in any way - except for the stainless steel staples, which were unavailable in the USSR. Border guards noticed that the center-fold of the passport had no rust stains.
  • by Jesus_666 ( 702802 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @09:29PM (#21094313)
    Phone book companies do this, as well. They include fake phone numbers in their books; if a competitor uses their (copyrighted) data they can easily find out just by taking the competitor's book and looking for the fake number.
  • by myth_of_sisyphus ( 818378 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @09:40PM (#21094395)
    Back in the day I came into possession of an ID that vaguely resembled me. It was worth more than gold to me.

    One night at a club the bouncer scrutinized the ID and then asked me what my sign is. I had no idea. I memorized everything else on the ID but didn't think to figure out the astrological sign. His kung-fu was good.

    I immediately countered with an exasperated "I'm an atheist, if I don't believe in god why would I believe in stars directing my fate?"

    He had no answer to that and let me in.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:32AM (#21100485)
    These days, at least in NY, that is standard operating procedure.

    Some good ways I have seen bouncers get people:
    My friend had an "International Student" Id and said he was from Canada -there was a place in NYC that legitimately produced them but only forced you to bring in a social security card (which has no DOB) to verify your info. So my buddy said he was from Canada. The bouncer asks him what his Social Security number was. My friend was taken aback, but started spewing out numbers. The bouncer then said "thats pretty funny, because Canadians DONT HAVE social security numbers. Good night!"

    Another good one was when my friend went into a bar w/ some girl's id that looked like her. So the bouncer turned to her friend, and said whats her name? The friend obviously gave her real name, after which they were on their way to a fun night of Scrabble.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich