France says breaks up international ATM ‘jackpotting’ network

French prosecutors said on Friday that police had broken up an international network aimed at the so-called “jackpotting” of ATMs that makes the machines eject all the cash they have inside.

Two suspects, aged 26 and 31, and already known to the authorities, have been charged and placed in detention, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement.

Jackpotting has become a known criminal scourge across the world in recent years. Malware is inserted into a cash machine — either manually or remotely — and a hacker then prompts the ATM to eject all its cash into the hands of accomplices at the scene.

Heitz said that between May 10-12 several individuals from the “Russian-speaking community” suspected of belonging to an “international jackpotting organisation” were detained in n Colombes outside Paris, Laval in western France and the southern city of Nice while trying to damage an ATM.

It said that the criminal group worked across Europe to insert malware into ATMs, attacking the machines at night.

“A hacker, operating from abroad, would take control of the cash dispensing software,” the statement said.

Nineteen incidents across France have already come to light, with the financial damage estimated at 280,000 euros ($300,000).

“We have a new wave of ‘jackpotting’ in France,” Francois-Xavier Masson, head of France’s agency for combating crimes in information and communication technologies (OCLCTIC), told AFP, adding that more than 60 incidents have been identified since the end of 2019. 

“There was a previous wave in 2018 and then it came to a halt, before resuming at the end of 2019. The way the groups act is changing, the teams are more international. But we are also changing how we act”, he added.