Free money too good to be true

By Jules Faber.

IN 2007 young pizza shop employee Brian Sommer must have thought he had it made.

The computer whiz had stumbled across a system which could cheat ATMs out of thousands of dollars.

After perfecting his system he targeted an ATM at a Bundaberg service station, taking $21,120, and then drove down the road an hour and found a friendly machine in Hervey Bay which handed over $7500 to him.

Unfortunately he soon found out that when something sounds too good to be true it usually is.

The problem with his scam was that he needed to use real people's credit cards to access the ATMs and so he used his own, his mother's, his girlfriend's and those of two of his friends.

His great scheme finally concluded yesterday when he fronted the Bundaberg District Court.

Prosecutor Sarah Klemm told the court Sommer had found information on the internet and in an ATM manual that allowed him to change the machines' settings so he could make huge withdrawals of cash.

“He had passwords that enabled him to access the hard drives of the machines,” Ms Klemm said.

“He used the machine, accessed the hard drive and changed the settings.”

Sommer was charged on August 24, 2007, with one count of computer hacking to gain benefits to the value of $5000 or more and two attempted computer hacking offences.

Ms Klemm argued for a two-year prison term for Sommer.

“This is a much more prolonged period of offending,” she said.

“It perhaps started off as curiosity but went from there.”

But defence counsel Peter Zufic said his client had a cheque ready to pay back the money he had stolen.

Mr Zufic also said a conviction should not be recorded because Sommer had applied to the Australian Defence Force to become an avionics technician

“He has excellent prospects of rehabilitation, he's otherwise of good character ... and he has not re-offended at all in the intervening period,” he said.

Judge Anthony Rafter said he took into account the defendant's age, character references and his academic record when he sentenced the defendant.

“It is also to your credit that you are able to make instant compensation,” he said.

Sommer was sentenced to two years' probation, 100 hours' community service and was ordered to pay back $23,160.

A conviction was not recorded.

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