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By | Dan Goodin 19th December 2007 01:50

Man siphons info for 300 credit cards from hotel kiosks

Not bad take for three days work

A former computer consultant has admitted to breaking in to more than 60 business kiosks at hotels and stealing credit card information during a three-day crime spree earlier this year.

Hario Tandiwidjojo, 28, of Lomita, California, pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000, although federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a maximum sentence of 10 months in exchange for pleading guilty. He is scheduled for sentencing on March 3.

Using credentials obtained from his previous employer, Tandiwidjojo bypassed four password checks that were used to restrict access to the hotel kiosks, which were rented to business guests by the hour. Once inside he installed a small arsenal of software that allowed him to intercept credit card information from customers who used the machines.

In just three days in February, his activities racked up $34,266 in losses and obtained credentials for as many as 300 credit cards, according to court documents.

Tuesday's plea agreement is the latest example of a computer consultant admitting to using his technical expertise to participate in a felony. Last month John Schiefer admitted using massive botnets to illegally install software on at least 250,000 machines and steal online banking identities of Windows users by eavesdropping on them while they made financial transactions. Both men were prosecuted in the same Los Angeles federal courthouse.

During a raid on Tandiwidjojo's residence in August, FBI agents confiscated a credit card writer used to encode information on magnetic strips, a credit card terminal used to process transactions and a California driver's license that bore Tandiwidjojo's picture but contained the name and other personal details of a different individual.

The Dell machines used in the kiosks were protected with a program designed to prevent changes to the underlying operating system, but Tandiwidjojo was able to override them and install keyloggers and other software. These transmitted credit details shortly after a customer swiped a card, according to court documents. He installed shared serial ports to streamline the operation. In many cases, the man used LogMeIn to remotely access the machines.

Showcase Business Centers, the company that operated the kiosks, estimated that more than 300 victims might have had their credit card details pilfered. Tandiwidjojo also attacked kiosks operated by a company by the name of Shuttlepoint, but only managed to make the machines crash.

Tandiwidjojo's previous work for a company that maintained hotel kiosks was instrumental in allowing him to perpetrate his crime. It supplied him with passwords needed to access the machines and also allowed him to pose as an authorized technical service provider. ®

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