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Original author: 
Jon Brodkin


Prototype of a system for preventing ATM theft.

Reuters

A criminal serving a five-year sentence "for supplying gadgets to an organized crime gang used to conceal ATM skimmers" has invented a device that prevents ATMs from being susceptible to such thefts, Reuters reported today.

Valentin Boanta, who is six months into his sentence in a Romanian prison, developed what he calls the SRS (Secure Revolving System) which changes the way ATM machines read bank cards to prevent the operation of skimming devices that criminals hide inside ATMs.

Boanta's arrest in 2009 spurred him to develop the anti-theft device to make amends. "When I got caught I became happy. This liberation opened the way to working for the good side," Boanta told Reuters. "Crime was like a drug for me. After I was caught, I was happy I escaped from this adrenaline addiction. So that the other part, in which I started to develop security solutions, started to emerge."

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Original author: 
Adrianne Jeffries

Atm_robbers_large

Defendants Elvis Rafael Rodriguez and Emir Yasser Yeje posing with approximately $40,000 with cash. Source: US Attorney, Eastern District of New York

If you’d been waiting for the ATM inside the deli at East 59th and Third in Manhattan on Tuesday, February 19th around 9:24PM, you would have been annoyed. A young man in a black beanie and puffy black jacket made seven withdrawals in a row, stuffing around $5,620 into his blue backpack. The man wasted no time. He exited the deli and headed up five blocks to repeat the process at four more ATMs, finishing his route at a Chase bank at 69th and Third at 9:55PM, where he made four withdrawals totaling $4,000.

While the man in the black beanie was beelining along the Upper East Side, seven...

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Original author: 
Dan Goodin

Wikipedia

Federal authorities have accused eight men of participating in 21st-Century Bank heists that netted a whopping $45 million by hacking into payment systems and eliminating withdrawal limits placed on prepaid debit cards.

The eight men formed the New York-based cell of an international crime ring that organized and executed the hacks and then used fraudulent payment cards in dozens of countries to withdraw the loot from automated teller machines, federal prosecutors alleged in court papers unsealed Thursday. In a matter of hours on two separate occasions, the eight defendants and their confederates withdrew about $2.8 million from New York City ATMs alone. At the same times, "cashing crews" in cities in at least 26 countries withdrew more than $40 million in a similar fashion.

Prosecutors have labeled this type of heist an "unlimited operation" because it systematically removes the withdrawal limits normally placed on debit card accounts. These restrictions work as a safety mechanism that caps the amount of loss that banks normally face when something goes wrong. The operation removed the limits by hacking into two companies that process online payments for prepaid MasterCard debit card accounts issued by two banks—the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah PSC in the United Arab Emirates and the Bank of Muscat in Oman—according to an indictment filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York. Prosecutors didn't identify the payment processors except to say one was in India and the other in the United States.

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Green Dot today launches the smartphone-based GoBank, which will have no overdraft or penalty fees, no minimum balance and a “pay what you feel is right” monthly membership fee.

iphone_payLet’s take a step back to set this up. Lots of startup types go about their lives in search of something they can fix. “Banking!” they think. “Banking sucks! I hate all the fees and unfriendliness.”

But then they realize that banking is really hard. To do it right, you have to actually officially be a bank, which takes years, even if you can find an existing bank to buy. So startups like WePay and BankSimple (now Simple, if that tells you anything) have historically partnered with banks and offered user interfaces layered on top.

GoBank promises that it can fully bridge the two worlds. That’s because prepaid card provider Green Dot actually bought an FDIC-insured bank in Utah back in 2011, after two years of regulatory hurdles.

Then, in March, Green Dot bought Loopt, an early mobile location app maker that never had a ton of usage. But Loopt had a team of mobile developers and a strong leader in Sam Altman, one of the earliest participants in Y Combinator and a significant influence on the famous startup program as a part-time partner.

Altman said in an interview yesterday that he’s seen many a startup apply to YC over the years, trying to be a bank. But none of them were equipped to do it. “This is a product I’ve always wanted to build,” he said, “and it was just starting up when we were talking to Green Dot.”

Altman said it should take approximately four minutes to set up a GoBank account, and it can be done from a mobile phone. Starting today, GoBank plans to let 10,000 U.S. users in for a beta test, and expand from there.

GoBank charges for just four things: Putting a personal photo on your debit card ($9), going to an out-of-network ATM ($2.50), spending money in another country (3 percent), and paying your membership fee (whatever you want, a la Radiohead or Humble Bundle).

SamAltmanGoBankBut it promises that it has a huge network of fee-free ATMs — 40,000, more than twice as many as Chase and Bank of America.

The iPhone and Android apps also include budget tools (including a silly “fortune teller” feature that makes judgment calls on new purchases), an option to see your balance without logging in, bill payments and ways to send money to people outside the network through PayPal. Savings accounts and mobile alerts are also included.

The idea of allowing people to pay whatever they want for banking is an odd one. It might make sense in the context of thinking about the human appreciation you have for an artist like Radiohead, but this is a bank we’re talking about. Users can pay anywhere from $0 to $9 per month.

Altman said he likes the challenge. “We’re accountable to deliver a service that users think is worth something.”

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