Feds: Chicago men set ATMs to spit out 20 times the cash requested

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Two Chicago men netted $185,000 by tinkering with ATMs around the city so they would spit out as much as 20 times more cash than requested, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday.

Trent Ratliff, 52, and Fredrick Lee, 60, have each been charged with conspiracy to commit computer access fraud and separate counts of computer access fraud, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The pair appeared before U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman and were released on $4,500 bond each. They are expected back in court Aug. 24.

Ratliff and Lee allegedly deposited nominal sums of money on debit cards registered to themselves and others, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Between September 2010 and January 2011, the two allegedly used those debit cards and accessed the management function of ATMs in and around Chicago. Then they altered the settings so the ATMs incorrectly reported and transmitted debit amounts, authorities said.

In many cases, Ratliff and Lee allegedly set the ATM to record debits that were one-twentieth of the actual funds disbursed.

In other words, a request for $100 would result in the ATM spitting out $2,000.

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