Feds: Pair stole $185,000 by changing settings on ATMs

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Two men are facing federal fraud charges after they stole $185,000 by tampering with ATMs in Chicago, authorities said Wednesday.

Trent Ratliff, 52, and Fredrick Lee, 60, were indicted April 29 by a federal grand jury, and the indictment was unsealed Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement.

As part of the scheme, the pair broke into the ATMs’ management functions and set the machines to dispense 20 times more cash than the value of their transaction, the indictment alleges.

A request for $100 from one of the altered ATMs would have given them $2,000 in cash, the indictment said. The machines would also incorrectly record the lower value.

In at least one case, they set the ATM to give them 80 times more in cash than they should have received, authorities claim. In all, they fraudulently obtained $185,000.

Ratliff and Lee used their own debit cards, and paid other people to use their debit cards as well, authorities said. The pair put the machines back to their normal settings after their withdrawals.

A 10-count indictment charges both Chicago residents with conspiracy to commit computer access fraud, among other charges, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Ratliff and Lee were both released on a $4,500 bond after a court appearance Wednesday, and they will next appear in court Aug. 24, the statement said.

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