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Feds Drop CFAA Charges Against 'Hacker' Who Exploited Poker Machines

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the judge-who-know-what's-up dept.

The Courts 144

FuzzNugget writes "According to Wired, the two CFAA charges that were laid against the man who exploited a software bug on a video poker machine have been officially dismissed. Says Wired: '[U.S. District Judge Miranda] Du had asked prosecutors to defend their use of the federal anti-hacking law by Wednesday, in light of a recent 9th Circuit ruling that reigned in the scope of the CFAA. The dismissal leaves John Kane, 54, and Andre Nestor, 41, facing a single remaining charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.' Kane's lawyer agreed, stating, 'The case never should have been filed under the CFAA, it should have been just a straight wire fraud case. And I'm not sure its even a wire fraud. I guess we'll find out when we go to trial.'"

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Aaron Swartz must be (3, Funny)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661975)

spinning in his grave.

Re:Aaron Swartz must be (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662073)

Niggers. Also, APK!

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Aaron Swartz must be (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662129)

it's because of his death they are afraid to abuse that law. they hope by following it's intent people demanding this tool prosecutors overreach and use to prosecute people they shouldn't with won't get rid of it until the heat dies down. and then they can abuse it all they want again.

DEFEND on to your 2nd amendment rights (-1, Flamebait)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662139)

It will be deemed crucial to fight against illegal law enforcement activities, such as abusing the CFAA.

Re:Aaron Swartz must be (3, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663659)

So from now on I can get out of any crime by threatening suicide? The DAs are all quaking in their boots.

Re:Aaron Swartz must be (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43665113)

So from now on I can get out of any crime by threatening suicide?

no. the only way that plan would work is if you succeed at suicide.

Nice try (2)

redmid17 (1217076) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662329)

We strapped him down real good.

Know when to hold em (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661999)

You got to know when to hold em.
Know when to fold em.
Know when to walk away, know when to run.

Re:Know when to hold em (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43664267)

apparently they missed the "know when to run" part

Hey editors... (-1, Redundant)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662023)

I can haz paragraphs? Those newlines are there for a reason.
Sigh...

Re:Hey editors... (3, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662249)

Those newlines are there for a reason.

They would have been there, but someone couldn't be bothered to figure out what the new command for unix2dos was.

Glitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662037)

What is this madness? Glitches are part of video games. Even speedrunners know that.

Re:Glitches (5, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662063)

Yes, but apparently if you profit off a glitch, it is your fault and yu are a bad person however if you simply write a buggy poker machine slot machine game thingy, you are just A-Okay.

To me, this is exactly like charging a person who uses a buggy phone that gives them free calls every other call with fraud. They bought the phone as is, made no changes to it and they are being charged. These guys didn't change the code in the poker machine, they just knew what buttons to press after putting money in. If anything, they should be celebrated as the folks that beat the gaming industry.

Business always gets legal protection (5, Insightful)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662131)

It is illegal if David beats Goliath.

Re:Business always gets legal protection (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662311)

Are you kidding? It's illegal if David even figures out how to beat Goliath.

Re:Business always gets legal protection (2)

operagost (62405) | about a year and a half ago | (#43664727)

In New Jersey, David's weapon is illegal to carry.*

* OK, I know there is a difference between a "sling" and a "slingshot", but I don't think New Jersey's legislators know what either one is, because the latter is actually illegal.

AT&T criminal negligence (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662345)

Only a few months ago we had this:
http://gawker.com/5559346/apples-worst-security-breach-114000-ipad-owners-exposed
http://www.wired.com/business/2013/03/weev/

AT&T had left the accounts of every iPad owner open, a group spotted it, reported it to Gawker, the Feds investigated, let AT&T off, and arrested the group and the lead was sentenced to 3.5 years.

So now you can't report security holes you find to the news because the FBI will arrest you for hacking.

They ran a public CGI (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662407)

"Goatse Security obtained its data through a script on AT&T's website, accessible to anyone on the internet. When provided with an ICC-ID as part of an HTTP request, the script would return the associated email address, in what was apparently intended to be an AJAX-style response within a Web application."

The 'hack' was they visited a URL, and the FBI managed to convince a judge that visiting a URL is hacking. The FBI clearly cooperated in AT&T's coverup here, visiting a URL is not hacking. It appears that AT&T is too big to prosecute, so they shot the messenger.

The CFAA was misused and the limited technical knowledge of a judge abused, to get a prosecution that lets AT&T cover up their negligence in exposing private data publicly on the web. It also shields them from lawsuits, since they can point to the 'crime', and claim to be the 'victims'.

They dropped the CFAA charges in this case, but that means nothing, the FBI has long abused that law, it clearly needs to be fixed and the FBI clearly need to be reined in.

Re:Glitches (2)

Dorianny (1847922) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662171)

Its all in the EULA you agreed to when you clicked on the button. Didn't you read the incomprehendable fine print?

Re:Glitches (3, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663251)

There is no EULA on a poker machine.

What you see is what you get.. no wait... what you see is what takes your money... No, hang on, let me word this... What you see should take your money... and if it doesn't then you can be hit with all sorts of charges... Hmmm, that doesn't sound as good as my original line...

Re:Glitches (3, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662185)

Yes, but apparently if you profit off a glitch, it is your fault and yu are a bad person however if you simply write a buggy poker machine slot machine game thingy, you are just A-Okay.

To me, this is exactly like charging a person who uses a buggy phone that gives them free calls every other call with fraud. They bought the phone as is, made no changes to it and they are being charged. These guys didn't change the code in the poker machine, they just knew what buttons to press after putting money in. If anything, they should be celebrated as the folks that beat the gaming industry.

Except most casinos have a very specific clause that says all winnings are scrutinized and may be denied if the winnings are as a result of a machine fault.

Yes, a casino is NOT a way to make money - if you treat them as a form of entertainment rather than money making, you're closer to the actual reality of what a casino actually is.

You cannot win. It's why if you do win a jackpot, the machine you used is immediately isolated and wheeled away to confirm the win, verify there's no shenanigans with the machine, and to verify there's no faults with the machine. And yes, if they forget to update the game firmware, that counts as a fault and your winnings will be denied.

In fact, all that really has to happen is the guy gets billed for all his winnings due to faulty machines. No muss, no fuss, no criminal charges. Just a big ass bill having to repay every single dollar won.

Re:Glitches (1)

redmid17 (1217076) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662337)

Have you ever actually played the slots?

Can't say it seems like it

Re:Glitches (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43665629)

I dunno. He says you cannot win.

That sounds like a pretty good summary of playing slots.

Re:Glitches (3, Interesting)

JabberWokky (19442) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662385)

And yes, if they forget to update the game firmware, that counts as a fault and your winnings will be denied.

I may be wrong, but I believe they do get fined and the fault recorded. Gaming associations are intended to close down establishments who have too many "mistakes" like that.

Now, I have zero experience with the reality. The way the article reads, it seems that the Nevada’s Gaming Control Board swooped in to oversee things closely. The jaded or masturbacynical will see this as "the system is rotten, they are there just to protect the casinos run by the *man*, man!", and the naive will believe government enforcement always works for the innocent person. The reality is somewhere between Goofy and the "we are nihilists" crowd's view, and egregious errors are corrected according to regulations.

Which really hits the thing this article never covered (or I missed it). Sure there's legal prosecution going on now, but were the winnings illegitimate according to the Pennsylvania and Nevada statutes?

Re:Glitches (2)

ShaunC (203807) | about a year and a half ago | (#43665191)

Awesome, you just coined a new term [google.com] , and I like it.

Re:Glitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662935)

I wonder, following your logic, can I sue them in this case as personal trauma? I came to have fun, I payed for it, and I was denied it. It's services not provided to the full, as customer I have rights, right? In fact, I was put down, which i consider to be damaging to my mental health. I was investigated, etc...

My idea of having funs is having money at casino expense btw. So no matter how you put it - casino is wrong.

What about ATMs (3, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662467)

If an ATM starts spitting out double money, I don't think I'm entitled to keep it even though "I was just playing by it's rules". Now in this case it's a bit different I suppose since it is a game where I can win or lose. But the part that they are winning here is not really in the game but an artifact of the the way credits are miscounted. SO it's really analogous to the double-money ATM issue.

But when does it ever go the other way? (5, Insightful)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662535)

Sure, I'll accept that analogy. Now give me an example where anyone was charged with a felony after an ATM didn't give a customer as much money as was withdrawn from the account. Maybe a misdemenor? A successful lawsuit even?

Corporations make mistakes all the time and the vast majority of them are in their favor. And yet these people who have millions of dollars and trained specialists and lawyers at their disposal... for some reason they are held to a much lower standard of justice. Some kid writes a fairly benign virus, gets charged as an adult and goes to prison. Sony, a multibillion dollar transnational corporation with a legion of lawyers and technical experts at its disposal, designs a rootkit to install itself on the computers of tens of millions of their customers. Result? A few class action lawsuits that offered a refund of the purchase price or a coupon for a DRM'ed digital download version of the album.

I'm not anti-corporation, I just think they should be held to a higher standard than individuals instead of being given a free pass for doing what are otherwise considered to be felonies.

Re:But when does it ever go the other way? (1)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662541)

sorry, I meant that to say "mistakes"

Cellular companies (2)

phorm (591458) | about a year and a half ago | (#43664771)

One that always comes to mind for me is cellular companies and billing errors. Strange how they can make the same error, every month, for possible a tens or hundreds of thousands, and the solution always seems to be just "oh sorry sir, we'll correct that on your next bill."

I had a co-worker who had a pretty tight budget, and remember that every single month he was on the phone correcting his cellular company's "mistakes." Of course, he was locked into a 3yr contract, so even after half a year or more mistakes he couldn't switch.

Meanwhile, the people that didn't watch their bills like a hawk get screwed, and the telco makes millions of illegitimate profit. Strange how those errors are 99.99% of the time in favour of the telco, and how they seem to always come back.

Who gets charged in court for that?

Re:But when does it ever go the other way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43664853)

This happened in England a few years back. Of course it wasn't a bank official who ended up in jail, but rather the customer who was cheated out of his money.

Re:What about ATMs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662575)

> SO it's really analogous to the double-money ATM issue.

Except it is not. With the atm you signed a contract when you opened the bank account associated with your atm card. With the slot machine, you walked up to it and put your money in.

Re:What about ATMs (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663187)

You can bet your ass that I'd keep the money.

Re:What about ATMs (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43665645)

> If an ATM starts spitting out double money, I don't think I'm entitled to keep it even though

Except it isn't an ATM that we're talking about. It's not even close.

Re:Glitches (1)

felixrising (1135205) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662529)

Where is my mod points when I need them! Mod up!

Re:Glitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43664487)

No, stop telling me what to do.

Re:Glitches (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662545)

Taking something that isn't yours is stealing, even if the owner makes it easy.

Re:Glitches (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662647)

Is it stealing if the owner gives it to you mistakenly?

He was presented a game. He played the game. He won. He was prosecuted. He did not cheat to win the game. He did not take anything that wasn't freely given.

Re:Glitches (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about a year and a half ago | (#43665613)

Is it stealing if the owner gives it to you mistakenly?

In order for someone else's property to become yours there has to be a valid contract. Not necessarily a written contract, or even a verbal one; in cases like this the contract is implicit. Nonetheless, in order for any contract to be valid there has to be this thing called "meeting of the minds". In other words, the original owner and prospective owner have to be in agreement regarding the terms of the contract.

For the owner to give you something "mistakenly" implies that there was no meeting of the minds. Their idea of what conditions were met or what they would receive in return does not match yours. Ergo, there was no valid contract, and the original owner retains the title to the property.

If you knew this up front, for example because you were deliberately defrauding the owner, then you are a thief; you knowingly took property that did not belong to you. If you find out about the disagreement after the fact and return the property on request, then there is no harm done. If you refuse to return the property, however, then from that point on you are withholding the property from its rightful owner, which once again makes you a thief.

In this case, it's not as simple as "He played the game. He won." He played the game and was rewarded with a specific payout. He then took steps which led to the machine vending significantly more money than advertised. A reasonable argument can be made that the owner only agreed to the advertised payout, not the amount the machine actually vended. The rest of the money vended would not be covered by that implicit contract, and was thus stolen.

Re:Glitches (5, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663307)

Taking something that isn't yours is stealing, even if the owner makes it easy.

This is gambling however. It's like playing a game of poker where you aren't supposed to see the cards, but one player is showing them to you. It is HIS/HER fault. Using the knowledge of that players cards in your betting and game is fine-and-dandy with me. Each player should be covering his cards.

This is a slot machine, it is a perfectly legal profit center for casinos and gaming establishments to strip money away from the poor, addicted, weak-minded and the like. This isn't a case where a chap sneaks into a software design company, steals the code for a slot machine and sells it to another developer. This is out and out poor coding that has bitten someone in the ass and they are suing the guy who noticed it. If I was semi-omnipotent (whereby had the power to change who got fined, but not whether they got fined) I would be slugging any fine directly to the company who coded this rubbish in the first place.

And seeing as I am in a somewhat antagonistic mood, please enlighten me on how enticing dim-witted souls into thinking that they have a real chance of winning money, as compared to in reality siphoning off their meager funds isn't stealing. Casinos are nothing short of a way for someone to profit off the addictions, simple-wits and guilability of those beneath them - and this is said from someone who has made a good deal of money from playing poker - the real kind, against other players, not the poker-machine type. If you ask me, they should be totally and utterly, without the slightest hesitation, liable for any mistakes on their part, any badly written gaming machines, or any-and-all dumb-shittery, mental-fuck-up-edness or downright incompetence on their part.

Re:Glitches (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year and a half ago | (#43665335)

and this is said from someone who has made a good deal of money from playing poker - the real kind, against other players, not the poker-machine type. If you ask me, they should be totally and utterly, without the slightest hesitation, liable for any mistakes on their part, any badly written gaming machines, or any-and-all dumb-shittery, mental-fuck-up-edness or downright incompetence on their part.

I fully agree here. I read the article to see how this worked, clearly if he was doing something obviously wrong, like flashing roms, or manipulating the device in some way, I would say he is in the wrong...

Instead, he found that some added feature on the game instituted rules which, as it turned out, allowed him to effectively retroactively increase his bets.

I would agree this is cheating if it was being done through almost any other mechanism but, they added this rule into the system, they allowed it to carry between games, and it to be applied to an unclaimed win in another game.

It reminds me of losing a magic game to a rules lawyer based on a technical point that I didn't understand until he explained it. It sucks, but, its the game. Maybe it means the game needs to be fixed, but, its not his fault for finding out that there was a particularly advantageous style of play; and it shouldn't invalidate his prior wins. This is especially true of any casinos which (and its clear they did) continued to leave the feature activated even after becoming aware of it.

Re:Glitches (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43665921)

its not his fault for finding out that there was a particularly advantageous style of play

In fact casinos rely on people believing that they have a "system" or advantageous style of play when in reality they do not (on the whole). I suppose the question is if the casion had a faulty roulette wheel which increased the frequency of some particular region would the casino be entitled to keep any winnings?

Re:Glitches (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663521)

Taking something that is somebody else's is stealing, even if the owner makes it easy.

Taking what simply isn't yours (yet) isn't. FTFY.

Re:Glitches (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43665683)

It's gambling and you are talking about morality. You're really funny.

Re:Glitches (4, Insightful)

Stolpskott (2422670) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662583)

To me, this is exactly like charging a person who uses a buggy phone that gives them free calls every other call with fraud. They bought the phone as is, made no changes to it and they are being charged. These guys didn't change the code in the poker machine, they just knew what buttons to press after putting money in. If anything, they should be celebrated as the folks that beat the gaming industry.

While I agree that using CFAA to prosecute these guys was prosecutorial overreach of the abusive kind, the cellphone analogy does not quite work (close though :-) ) - if the "normal" operating process for the poker machine is "put money in", "play", "complete game", "cash out/play again/insert more money and repeat", and the guys were doing this, then the analogy would work.
But the actual process was one that was so illogical that the only statistically likely way to discover it would be with inside information or via hacking. Probably the prosecutors originally assumed this was the case and were looking at using CFAA, and decided to be lazy and press on with abusive over-reach instead of re-adjusting to use more appropriate legislation when their initial investigations. Alternatively, the prosecutors could actually have, SHOCK AND HORROR, actually done their job properly, and looked at all of the available evidence and THEN decided what statutes they were going to try and run the prosecution under to aim for a conviction based on the actual discovered evidence rather than their own assumptions or that one of them really wanted to try a CFAA case.

Having said that it is statistically likely to have been uncovered with inside information or hacking, the number of times people have played these machines means that there was still a slim but significant possibility of it being discovered by accident as seems to have happened here, and in those cases (as far as I am aware) there is no legal requirement for him to report the "malfunctioning" equipment to either the casino or the manufacturer so the worst thing that could be done to him legally is for the casino to ban him from their establishments and for the casino to take the matter up with the manufacturer, using a civil law suit to recover the lost money from the manufacturer, who then makes a claim on some liability insurance or other (and if I am wrong about him not having a duty to report the problem, then it is a civil problem between the casino and the patron).

Re:Glitches (5, Informative)

wienerschnizzel (1409447) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662971)

I assume you didn't read into the case. The prosecutors were never trying to argue that Nestor (the accused) used hacking to find the glitch. They were trying to argue that the combination of keys that activates the glitch is so complex that it should by itself be considered 'hacking'.

However, the 'combination of keys' used was not that extraordinary - all were legal game-play moves. Boiled down to the fact that switching a denomination of a game could change the payout the machine would give you on games you already won (but did not cash out yet).

The prosecution was trying to paint is as access rights violation but they failed to show just what exactly did the defendants do that they were 'not entitled' to do.

It still might be a fraud. Especially since Nestor convinced the operator in one case to switch on the feature that enabled the glitch. But hacking is out of the question.

Re:Glitches (0)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year and a half ago | (#43664855)

It still might be a fraud. Especially since Nestor convinced the operator in one case to switch on the feature that enabled the glitch. But hacking is out of the question.


I'm not so sure, I think it's pretty damned close to hacking.

Let's say I go to Amazon, and I discover that by clicking on a series of links, I get refunded 50% of my previous purchase. I don't know WHY that happens, but I figure out that it does, and now after every purchase, I click that series of links and get refunded that 50%.

Does it matter if I don't physically know that what those clicks are doing is causing a buffer overrun in some portion of Amazon's code which overwrites my previous order's value? (I'm not a hacker, so assume what I typed made sense) All I did was interact with Amazon's interface, yet it was clear that whatever it I was doing to that interface was refunding me money to which I was not entitled to.

I would argue that it IS hacking (but in a very shallow sense) when he used a known bug to cause a computer system to behave in a manner which he knew was incorrect. If he stopped at that point, I'd have a hard time justifying it as 'hacking' as we understand it to be, but when he took it further and used it to steal money, he made it clear that he understood his actions were causing the computer system to behave in a manner which was not intended by the owner of the system.

Again, not 'hacking', but so close to hacking that I'm not sure where I stand on the issue.

Re:Glitches (2)

chrismcb (983081) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663263)

But the actual process was one that was so illogical that the only statistically likely way to discover it would be with inside information or via hacking.

Really?
How about the guy is playing for pennies... Wins. But its only pennies. Decides to play another game, also wins. Figures may as well raise the stakes, since he keeps winning. Raises his bet, then remembers he didn't cash out his first win.
It isn't as convoluted as it sounds.

Re:Glitches (2)

tofarr (2467788) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663173)

In real poker, if you see that your opponent has a 'tell' and use that against them, does that make you guilty of fraud? No. IMHO, mame thing applies here

Re:Glitches (2)

schwit1 (797399) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663981)

In poker you are play against the person not his cards.

Re:Glitches (0)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about a year and a half ago | (#43664639)

Go back and read the details of what happened. They are accused of intentionally exploiting a glitch in the machine to fraudulently win hundreds of thousands of dollars. If it happens to you once because you unknowingly pressed that particular combination of buttons, you most likely won't be facing criminal charges. Once you know about it, though, if you continue to intentionally exploit the glitch, you're taking someone else's money contrary to their intended means. Similarly, it's illegal to intentionally exploit a glitch in an ATM to get more money than is deducted from your account, or to walk into somebody's house and take their stuff because they forgot to lock their door.

Re:Glitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43665457)

Even worse, if said glitch causes the player to lose then the excuse is "well, it's been thoroughly tested and retested so you must be mistaken and it's your loss".

Re:Glitches (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43665621)

This is just the way the industry operates. The house is supposed to win. If you violate this, then somehow you are a cheat or something else that justifies you being ejected from the premises and put on a blacklist.

It's a total double standard and yet another reason to avoid these establishments.

legalize fraud (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662041)

helps ensure libertarians raise enough funds.

Re:legalize fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662127)

Don't you mean Liberals?

God says... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662061)

God says...
and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none
remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the
king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king.

10:40 So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south,
and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none
remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of
Israel commanded.

10:41 And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all
the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.

Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses... (5, Insightful)

cyn1c77 (928549) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662105)

How many undiscovered glitches are there that cause the player to lose unfairly?

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (4, Funny)

Wattos (2268108) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662113)

How many undiscovered glitches are there that cause the player to lose unfairly?

These are called features ;)

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (2)

starless (60879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662119)

Same as with candy bar machines.
They frequently fail to give you your candy bar, but they almost never accidentally give you 2 candy bars.
They're obviously engineered to "fail" in a way that benefits the "house"....

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662321)

They're engineered to be fail safe.

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662419)

Interestingly enough, some vending machines are also "hackable" by pushing multiple selection buttons or pressing buttons in a certain sequence. In some cases they can be made to vend without putting money in first, and some other sequences may display the total money in the machine or activate the coin ejector. ("Jackpot!")

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662475)

I've always been lucky and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I've actually gotten two more often than I've been ripped off. (In fact, I only remember being ripped off once, at work, where I was reimbursed. But I remember several occasions where I've gotten two.)

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662625)

On the subject of vending machines, I once discovered a flaw in the bill-reader of a vending machine that wouldn't take my bill. At first I thought it was a problem with the bill, so I tried smoothing it out and reinserting and after about five tries, noticed that the machine had credited me $2 without taking the bill. I took my item, got the change and met up with my friends.

The machine was in the basement of my dorm, and my friends were in the TV lounge one floor up. I told them the story about the machine - and we proceeded to play the vending machine much like the 'hackers' in the video poker case. We took turns inserting a dollar bill (it was always rejected) until the machine gave us the credit, bought the lowest-price item and collected $1.50 in change each time until we emptied the machine of change. We made off with about $17 in quarters apiece...

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (4, Interesting)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663247)

Yeah, fuck that poor slob who owns the vending machine. He can afford it.

So what was your limit? If the owner had forgotten to lock it would you have taken all the contents? How about if someone had accidentally left a crow bar nearby? Would you have pried open the machine? What's the line you won't cross?

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43663675)

I have an anecdote on vending machines. While going to school, I worked at a large drugstore (smaller than Walmart, larger than Walgreens). There was a soda vending machine outside. It was owned by some company that had lots of them in various places around the region. On coming to work opening the store on a Saturday we saw it had been broken into (it had a rather large steel bar across it and a huge lock, but they had been cut). The "money box" was taken. However the "change box" (where the machine keeps a certain amount of dimes, nickels, and a few quarters as change for sales) was still there and still full. The product (a bunch of various sodas) was still there too. We called the company and they said they would send someone on Monday. Two days later - with this machine open. They didn't care much about the stuff still in there. We figured this was stupid, so we removed all the soda (filled two shopping carts) and put it in the back room. We also held down the internal buttons that caused it to drop change and emptied the change box and put that in the back too. (As I recall I think I kept about a 6 pack of sodas for myself). We returned all that stuff to the company - and they didn't care. No thanks, no nothing. Apparently they CAN afford that. Because that kind of thing happens a lot. And they just write it off and move on.

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (2)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663909)

A lot of vending machines are owned by small-time operators. Often semi-retired guys trying to make ends meet. You'll see them early in the morning at Costco loading up on items for that day's run. They split the revenue with the owner of the location of the machine. Not always, of course. The high-traffic locations get taken by the large operators, but there a lot of small-timers just trying to get by.

Sounds like you did a good thing. It's annoying that you cared more than the company, and some recognition and thanks would be nice, but then that's not why we do good things (at at least shouldn't be.)

Not sure about that... (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663175)

I had a vending machine once display "WINNER" on the LCD, then it proceeded to give me my item and ALSO refund all the money I put into it!

It was very, very rare as used that machine quite often and it only happened once. But it does show the people that program them might easily have put in things that favor the person using the machine...

Re:Not sure about that... (2)

EETech1 (1179269) | about a year and a half ago | (#43664759)

The coffee machine where I used to work would do that. I asked the vending machine guy about it, and he said it was adjustable, and set so every 50th cup was free. It was not a random 1 in 50 chance, simply every 50th cup.

There was a beat up old sticker by the bill validator that said "I will be giving away DRINKS ON THE HOUSE! Watch for the message, Listen for the beeps, IT MAY BE YOU"

Not everyone knew about it, so there was also about a 1 in 100 chance that their change would be left in the coin return:)

Cheers!

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#43665153)

Same as with candy bar machines.
They frequently fail to give you your candy bar, but they almost never accidentally give you 2 candy bars.
They're obviously engineered to "fail" in a way that benefits the "house"....

Depends on the machine. At one place, two of the 5 had special sensors that ensured something fell down into the chute (I think the machines called it "seeing eye" or something). It's just a little optical sensor whose beam gets broken by the item.

Once, it DID fail on me - the item was still stuck on the loop. The machine detected this and spun it around again, so I ended up with two.

I noticed that those machines were also better engineered - one item common to all had a habit of falling the wrong way and getting wedged in the chute such that the door was stuck shut. (or get caught on a lip in the chute) The seeing eye machines didn't have lips that could catch the item nor did the item ever fall the wrong way to get stuck - they were engineers to prevent the item from flipping around and tended to have the items slide down rather than tumble.

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662283)

Not many, I'd imagine. The house controls the odds of winning very carefully. This guy got extra winnings through a bug that caused the machine to pay out 10x what was on the screen. If there were an equivalent bug causing the machine to pay out 1/10th of the displayed winnings, you can bet your ass there'd be a lawsuit.

(not that I'm at all defending their attempts to screw this guy)

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (5, Informative)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662831)

There have been several cases where the machine displayed a much higher jackpot then what was then paid out.

http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/06/05/1828218/malfunction-costs-couple-11-million-slot-machine-jackpot [slashdot.org]
http://idle.slashdot.org/story/09/11/06/1638213/casino-denies-man-166-million-jackpot [slashdot.org]

And I don't think the 'winners' got anywhere with their lawsuits.

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662487)

In a casino? I'd imagine the customer would immediately point out the glitch to a staff and get reimbursed, gamblers can get really nasty when they lose unfairly. So I'd say zero undiscovered glitches that go against the gambler. There may be some that are yet not fixed but not undiscovered.

As to whether this particular case, going the opposite way, is a crime... Well every online game I've played says "bug-use is a bannable offense" so it's a grey area at best, but you still can't blame the casino from raising a stink.

Analogy time: let's say someone discovers that through some wild combination of reflections he can see your younger sister taking a shower off the shiny back of a brand new stop sign. So he videos the shower scene while legally standing on a public sidewalk, and puts in on YouTube. Illegal or a legit use of a bug?

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662669)

Analogy time: let's say someone discovers that through some wild combination of reflections he can see your younger sister taking a shower off the shiny back of a brand new stop sign. So he videos the shower scene while legally standing on a public sidewalk, and puts in on YouTube. Illegal or a legit use of a bug?

The looking would be legal. Video of a naked sub-18 posted without permission would likely be a crime, regardless of how it was obtained. If your younger sister is over 18, the only issue would be using someone's likeness without permission.

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (3, Funny)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662845)

he can see your younger sister taking a shower off the shiny back of a brand new stop sign. So he videos the shower scene while legally standing on a public sidewalk, and puts in on YouTube. Illegal or a legit use of a bug?

Legit use of a bug, but a violation of YouTube's Terms of Service [youtube.com] ("you will not submit to the Service any Content or other material that is contrary to the YouTube Community Guidelines") and Community Guidelines [youtube.com] ("YouTube is not for pornography or sexually explicit content").

In the specific case of my younger sister, it's also horrific taste. She's quite unattractive. (Community guidelines: "YouTube is not a shock site. Don't post gross-out videos")

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (2)

Myopic (18616) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663363)

Banning a lucky or plucky player is one thing but prosecuting him for a crime is a much different thing. I think banning is reasonable in most cases ('right to refuse service') but prosecutions should only happen when crimes are committed.

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662531)

I doubt there are that many, largely because it would be pretty stupid to risk losing your license to operate a machine that, simply by the laws of probability, will almost make money. In the places where these things operate they usually have to undergo some pretty stringent testing to make sure the odds of winning are as close to "real" poker as possible. TFA even mentions them undergoing random spot inspections where they take a SHA-1 hash of the machine data and compare it with what is registered....

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662637)

Taking the SHA-1 hash does not detect BUGS that cause the PLAYER to lose money more than expected. How would you even know such a bug existed? Does QA go through mathematically checking everything under all circumstances (the answer is no: this guy found a case they didn't check). The question stands: how many CASINO-BIASED bugs remain?

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662793)

Did you read the fucking comment, or just zoom in on a word and start mouthing off? The programs MUST go through a certification process that will catch most of the bugs, and the SHA-1 hash is to ensure that the code remains the same. So the benefit from creating casion-biased bugs is probably less than the potential cost of getting caught.... so yeah, when you hit that "reply" button in the future, actually read the fucking comment instead of just scanning for keywords, ok?

Re: Of course, it's only illegal if the house lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43663269)

You need to calm down and grow up.

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43664187)

if the house like the rest of us can resist greed , it dosnt need 'bugs' to make money it allready has features built into an honest game that punters allready accept to ensure i makes money over the long term.

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663049)

I'd imagine this would be taken pretty seriously. Nevada regulated games pretty tightly, but the casinos want to provide an honest game. Their reputation matters, and they make a huge profit running honest games. A suggestion that they're cheating puts off a lot more honest players than they can win through a few glitches.

Re:Of course, it's only illegal if the house loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43663479)

I was just at the casino the other day... The machines clearly state "all malfunctions void all pays and plays".

Is this for real?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662211)

This here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgDsbjAYXcQ&feature=player_embedded#!

Is it true that the FBI deliberately refuses to allow recordings of any interviews in case their agents are caught lying? And that the notes they keep are the legal definition of the interview? So that if they 'tweak' the notes, you can't say you didn't say that, because that's lying to an FBI agent (the legal definition of the interview is the hand written notes, so you are now changing your story, a crime!), and you can't agree that you said that because it implicates you in crime. Catch 22.

If this is true, then the FBI are guilty of some serious criminal behavior. Why don't they record the interviews on an audio recording device ? Why are they afraid of an accurate recording?

Re:Is this for real?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662433)

Why would you agree to such interviews without your lawyer present?

That was his point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662563)

That's his point, don't go have a chat with the FBI, even if its not under oath, even if your not accused on anything, or a witness, because they have a policy of only keeping *their* hand written notes, and preventing a proper authentic recording.

The official policy is to prevent an accurate recording of an interview, and permitting only their inaccurate one.

You can say "I *wasn't* in that bar that evening", the FBI agent writes "I *was* in that bar that evening", if you deny saying what the FBI agent wrote, they'll try prosecuting for lying to a Federal agent, if you agree, they've successfully fabricated a fake piece of evidence that places you at the scene of a crime.

That would be perverting the course of justice, but the FBI rules ensure the evidence isn't there to prove it.

Charges officially dismissed? (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662227)

"According to Wired, the two CFAA charges .. have been officially dismissed".

Where does it say that in the two links provided?

Here's the new article at wired.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43662519)

Here's the new article at wired.com http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/05/video-poker-hacking-dismissed/

Wire fraud? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662521)

They should have used wireless...

"Lucky shot" "justice" (2)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about a year and a half ago | (#43662987)

"I guess we'll find out when we go to trial.'"

It is this "Lucky shot" kind of "justice" that makes the U.S. justice system a boring joke around the world. Off course there is always the possibility that you sue somebody for something that turns out not to be applicable, but just suing (and therefore financially draining) a victim just to see what he may be accused of is just criminal.

Voting and Casinos (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43663231)

The point of pressing any buttons in the poker is to win or increase the winnings. No button pressing combination is thus any different from any other. And they should either all be illegal or not. Blaming these people for playing the game as it is, is just ridiculous. Casinos should be more careful about bugs and pay the bills in this case for their failure to do so.

Voting systems, now, I wish the same scrutiny was awarded to them.

Isn't it hacking? (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663369)

Not sure I'm convinced that exploiting an obvious glitch isn't hacking. Especially when part of the process involves manipulating the casino into enabling the feature. It's pretty obvious that this isn't intended behaviour and it's a glitch.

Also not convinced that it is wire fraud. Seems an odd charge to apply.

Re:Isn't it hacking? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43664439)

Casino's entire reason for existance is to profit off of a glitch in the human brain.

Re:Isn't it hacking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43664783)

I often go to a casino and "spend" $40-$100 playing the machines, just like I used to go to an arcade and spend $20 playing pinball. Casinos can be healthy fun as long as you don't go there with the aim of winning money at all cost.

Re:Isn't it hacking? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43664881)

And that's the glitch. Casinos are nothing but money sinks, and yet the human brain still perceives them as fun. There's no rational expectation that you will leave better off than you entered. There's essentially no skill involved in most games, so you don't even get to feel good for having played well. All there is is variable schedule reinforcement, and blinking lights.

Re:Isn't it hacking? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year and a half ago | (#43665009)

There's essentially no skill involved in most games, so you don't even get to feel good for having played well. All there is is variable schedule reinforcement, and blinking lights.

Chutes and Ladders for adults. With booze and pretty women.

They gave the Feds their algorithm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43663613)

That's the only way to be sure.

but now he has to fight to get ou the Griffin Book (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43663793)

but now he has to fight to get out the Griffin Book

Broken Legs (1)

cgfsd (1238866) | about a year and a half ago | (#43664815)

I would worry more about being taken out into the back alley and having my legs broken. Casinos don't like people winning their money. He was lucky to only be arrested.

I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43665415)

The poker game was programmed such that a certain set of button pushes would result in a win. Why is using the program as it was programmed a crime?

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