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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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  • Ha. (Score:2, Funny)

    by MrCrassic ( 994046 )

    I wonder how far he would have gotten printing those IDs, even with the driver...

    At least that's one petty thief removed for the good of everyone.

  • oblig. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Shteven ( 1137821 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @04:59PM (#21091265)
  • by evildarkdeathclicheo ( 978593 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:01PM (#21091289)
    Um, Darwin awards? Unfortunately, criminals are still allowed to procreate and spread their genes. So unless he's either dead or rendered an eunuch, we're still screwed. -W
    • There are two things that are infinite; the universe and human stupidity. And I'm not so sure about the universe...
    • I think the level of stupidity involved shows that he is a good potential candidate at some point in the future. He'll either get himself killed in prison, waxing rhapsodic about the good old days of segregation in the south - or go out in flaming glory shortly after prison, immediately after uttering the timeless words, "Bubba, watch this!"
    • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:09PM (#21091411) Homepage
      Not all dumb people are criminals. Well, not unless being stupid is outlawed.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by s.bots ( 1099921 )

        unless being stupid is outlawed.

        I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, except for idiots."
        I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood, and laugh at the stupidity that was once rampant our nation.
        I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state swelterin

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        We can dream of that future.
    • Um, Darwin awards? Unfortunately, criminals are still allowed to procreate and spread their genes. So unless he's either dead or rendered an eunuch, we're still screwed. -W

      Maybe the printer splits lead-based particles into the air?

    • If prison decreases his likelihood of spreading his genes, epigenes, or memes, he has failed in the modern evolutionary sense.

      I'm guessing it is hard to find fertile women in prison, and even harder to pass on your own stupid ideas to your children if they exist, since you only see them for an hour per week.
    • by twistedcubic ( 577194 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:41PM (#21091833)
      He probably suffers from lead poisoning, that's all. No need to trample on the disabled.
    • This is just the try-out round for the Darwin playoffs. It would be senseless to get killed or castrated and then find out that what he did wasn't dumb enough to win the award. He's saving the spectacularly stupid death for later. "Stupid done smart": motto for the high tech criminal.
  • idiot. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by andreyvul ( 1176115 ) <(andrey.vul) (at) (> on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:01PM (#21091295)
    use driverguide or google, ya moron!
  • Fake ID's (Score:3, Funny)

    by jcicora ( 949398 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:04PM (#21091325) Journal
    Geez, talk about a close call for people living in Misery...I mean Missouri
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I've got a news flash for him: I'm from Missouri. Nobody outside the state knows it exists, and everybody in the state knows each other. Either way, nobody would have believed he was who he said he was anyway.

      Note: St. Louis doesn't count. They seceded years ago.

  • 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...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Major Blud ( 789630 ) *
      Same reason anyone uses a laptop; mobility. Revenue employees need to take data out of the office and into the field to conduct on-site audits and make collections. I work with a State revenue agency that was really worried about losing one of these laptops. They just got through implementing a third-party encryption scheme to protect the data on the hard drives from prying eyes.
      • Well, they could just, y'know, PURGE the data once it's been transferred to the central servers. Still need encryption for the duration of each trip, but that's a much smaller potential loss.
      • Knowing a little about the govt IT employees, this "third-party encryption scheme" probably uses ROT13.

        And they do it twice for the managers' laptops.
    • by Fizzl ( 209397 )
      Now seriously. Would you consider a dektop instead of a laptop a security feature?
      • Against someone like this, it might be. Seriously, do you have any idea how many people don't know how to plug in a desktop computer? Power, Monitor, Monitor power, Mouse, Keyboard. That's a lot of plugs!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Where do you see in the article that this was a laptop? The article always says "PC" so it appears to be a desktop or workstation. A better question how in the world did he steal this large set up. I seen one of these things for mid-scale ID production from my former workplace and it is not small so he must of had some help and a very large truck or SUV to steal it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Stooshie ( 993666 )
        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!!!
  • Low IQ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:06PM (#21091347)
    Probably used too much leaded gasoline [] when he was younger.
  • 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 HTH NE1 ( 675604 )
      Howie Mandel [] related this story in a stand-up routine on HBO in the 1980s (while he was still on St. Elsewhere []). Searches didn't produce the bit, so here it is from my memory. Historical note: apparently at the time, Canadian driver's license weren't photo-bearing ID, or at least his wasn't:

      I needed a US bank to apply for an account or else I wouldn't get paid in the US. The lady behind the bank counter said, "I need to see your ID," so I give her my Canadian driver's license. She gives it back to me sa

      • Actually, back in 1989 or 1990, my Vermont driver's license didn't have a picture. I'd carry around a college ID with me, which had a picture and, if I showed both, I could usually get by.

        I remember when my sister got married--must've been about six or seven years ago--my Dad had to make the trip to the state capitol, Montpelier, in order to get a new driver's license with a picture on it so that he could get on an airplane to go to the wedding.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by giminy ( 94188 )
      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
  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:09PM (#21091415)
    This is funny, really funny. But it's not Darwin funny which unless I'm mistaken are feats of stupidity which remove you from the gene pool. Stealing a ID printer and asking for drivers, to make fake IDs, while funny it isn't as funny as trying to steal the legs off an abandoned yet erect water tower.
  • Please Hold (Score:3, Funny)

    by Trub68 ( 1140871 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:14PM (#21091473)
    "Hello tech support, yes I'll hold" KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK "Hmmm must be the pizza"
  • 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..."
  • I believe the intent is to say that he will end up as a Darwin Award winner in the future, even if he hasn't yet managed the feat.
  • by Lust ( 14189 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:25PM (#21091631) Homepage
    No one should call Tech Support - it's too frustrating.
  • by madsheep ( 984404 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:26PM (#21091645) Homepage

    Problem: he could not unlock the computer he stole and without the necessary drivers, he couldn't use the printer.
    So um... how did he unlock the computer? I'm not quite following that part.
  • 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.
    • That was my first thought as well. Why are tech support lines being monitored by the feds? I hope it went down like this:
      • Thief takes a specialized government owned printer
      • Some bright bulb in the Secret Service (SS) realizes that the thief might just call tech support
      • SS calls Digimark and asks if they could monitor the tech support lines for a few days
      • SS gets lucky.

      rather than:

      • SS routinely monitors all calls to any tech support
      • SS also monitors calls made by telemarketers
      • SS owns massive voice mat

    •   Missouri Dept of Revenue computer. I believe the SS gets involved in all of these sorts of cases.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      One might conclude that the Service listened to a recording of the conversation. Many if not most tech support and customer service calls are recorded.
  • DAMN! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:34PM (#21091741)
    And here I thought getting printer drivers from HP was tough.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by kcbanner ( 929309 ) *
      Naw, just a lengthy process...the 700mb printer driver downloads are a bit of a drag.
  • Gary Glitter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe Jay Bee ( 1151309 ) * <[jbsouthsea] [at] []> 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...)
    • by DrSkwid ( 118965 )
      I was in the office of the company that was handling his Christmas U.K. tour when the call came in, that was an interesting afternoon!
  • 10 years for stealing a printer? Seems a little harsh.
    • That probably includes all the conspiracy stuff. If the Secret Service was involved, they probably thought he was trying to forge money, which is a serious federal felony.
      • by taustin ( 171655 )
        No money, government issued IDs. Possibly government employee IDs of some sort. And yeah, that's the big time.
        • by geekoid ( 135745 )
          Sure, had he done that.

        • All I was trying to say is that money counterfeiting charges are probably like automatic in those instances, especially with Secret Service involvement. For instance, possessing a certain threshold of drugs, or possessing them within a set distance of some landmarks (schools, for example) automatically gets you "intent to distribute" instead of straight possession. Similarly, if I stole a nuclear warhead, I'd be charged with attempted terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism, regardless of what I claim
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by taustin ( 171655 )
            If you RTFA, it makes it entirely clear. But I guess that's just too much trouble. It has, like, words and stuff in it.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              Just out of curiousity:
              Did you buy your relatively low ID from someone on ebay?
              I mean... it doesn't take too much time on /. to learn that people don't RTFA.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Technician ( 215283 )
      10 years for stealing a printer? Seems a little harsh.

      Try swiping a "Printer" from Fort Knox.. It's the intended application and who it was stolen from is the problem. It was an ID printer. If you want years, grap a printing press and the plates for a few $20's from Fort Knox. It is not the same as stealing a newsprint press or an HP inkjet.
  • by uofitorn ( 804157 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @05:50PM (#21091985)
    This is funny and all. But I can't help but wonder how often this kind of thing goes on that we aren't aware of and is perpetrated by non-Darwin candidates. I mean, news is only "news" when it's interesting and unusual (given that it's usually reported by a for-profit institution).
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by kcarlin ( 99704 ) * on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @06:12PM (#21092263) Homepage Journal
    A positive result from calling vendor tech support! And resolution in record time!
  • by viscus ( 1178513 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @06:16PM (#21092329)
    Had he been able to get the printer working with his computer, he probably would've promptly made a posting to his local Facebook network reading: "HAY GUYS I CAN HOOK YOU UP W/ FAKE ID LOL" and been busted anyway.
  • by citking ( 551907 ) <> 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.

  • (Dripping sarcasm mode on)

    ...Linux is better than Windows. Yes, at last the very criticism launched against Linux over a lack of built-in drivers backfires! By requiring Linux users to pester manufacturers, we suppress criminal activity. Microsoft Windows, on the other hand, supplies most such drivers on CD, aiding terrorists and criminals. It is not Linux that is anti-American, this story clearly proves that it is Windows that is anti-American.

    (Dripping sarcasm mode off)

    Seriously, this story does ill

    • The 'Stainless steel Rat' series is a fun series about a far future criminal.

      At one point, early in his career, he decides to get thrown in jail to learn from the criminals.
      After getting in jail, he realizes that the stupid criminals are in jail. So he leaves.

      Only the most sensational crimes, or the most stupid of criminals gets any note.

      "security has been considered a political tool, not a social or technical one, until after the fact of it being defeated. "

      That's false.

      "Bugs are supposedly inevitable, bu
  • I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27