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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Utah

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Two Sentenced In Jackpotting Case Involving Banks In Utah And Washington, Sentencings Set For Others

Defendants Ordered To Pay Restitution of $306,200

SALT LAKE CITY – Two defendants, who were involved in “jackpotting” a number of ATMs in Utah and elsewhere from Feb. 23, 2018, to March 7, 2018, have resolved their federal cases in Salt Lake City and been sentenced.  Three others have entered guilty pleas and will be sentenced in May. Cases are pending for two other defendants charged in the scheme.

Josshua Perez Rivas, age 39, a Venezuelan national, was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison in late February after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bank theft in December.  According to a sentencing memorandum filed by federal prosecutors, Perez Rivas played a significant role in organizing what was a sophisticated international conspiracy to steal from banks in the United States.  “The plot is remarkable for its technological sophistication and for the number of participants recruited to help ensure its success. It is a plot that requires significant planning and expertise,” they told the court.

The defendants in the case used software and equipment to reprogram ATM computers to enable them to direct the ATMs to dispense cash until emptied – an activity sometimes called jackpotting.  Perez Rivas compromised the ATM computers and installed the software in almost every instance. Perez Rivas appears to have been the point person for communications between the team on the ground and their coconspirators who developed the malware.

The defendants possessed false identifications and stolen credit card numbers to allow them to rent hotel rooms and vehicles to be used in facilitation of their conspiracy without leaving a record of their identities.  Computer files with approximately 600 credit card numbers that appear to have been stolen were found on data storage devices in the suitcases of one of the defendants.  Using the false identifications assured the defendants that their names were not left at the hotel or associated with the license plate on the vehicle should it be caught on camera, federal prosecutors said.  

Before their capture, Perez Rivas and his codefendants had successfully jackpotted five ATMs in Washington and one in Sandy, Utah.  They also attempted to jackpot two additional ATMs in Salt Lake City before being arrested during the Sandy crime.

According to information included in plea agreements reached in the case, the following amounts were stolen from ATMs through the unauthorized access:

Dec. 13, 2017             Sound Credit Union ATM -  Bothell, Washington                        $88,000

Dec. 15, 2017             iQ Credit Union - Vancouver, Washington                                    $8,000

Dec. 16, 2017             Umpqua Bank ATM - Vancouver, Washington                             $16,000

Dec. 16, 2017             Columbia Credit Union ATM - Vancouver, Washington             $91,000

Dec. 17, 2017             Heritage Bank ATM -  Vernon, Washington                                  $64,400

Feb. 25, 2018             Deseret First Credit Union ATM -  Sandy, Utah                          $38,800

The two ATMS in the attempted jackpotting events in Salt Lake City contained $75,000 and $33,200.  It appears these attempts were thwarted by an alarm that sounded at one ATM and the arrival of a bank customer at the other.    

Starlin Garcia Caraballo, age 40, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank theft charged in the Washington indictment and conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse from the Utah indictment.  He has been sentenced to one year in federal prison.   

Joao Silva Robertson, age 29, and Pedro Rivero Velazquez, age 39, have pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank theft charged in a superseding indictment returned in the Western District of Washington and one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse charged in the Utah indictment.  Sentencing for Velazquez will be May 13.  Robertson will be sentenced May 20, 2018.  Both plea agreements include a stipulated 30-month sentence, subject to the approval of the court.

Jean Carlos Dumont Gonzales pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse in early March and is scheduled to be sentenced May 21, 2019.  His plea agreement includes a stipulation to a sentencing range of 12 to 30 months, subject to the approval of the court.

A change of plea hearing has been set for June 4, 2019, for Carlos Eduardo Goncalves Duran, age 33.

A federal arrest warrant is pending for Luis Mendez Mata, age. 43, who is alleged to have been part of the conspiracy to install malicious software that would allow them to direct the ATMs to dispense cash from the financial institutions.

Perez Rivas still faces charges in Washington.

Defendants convicted in the case will be jointly responsible for paying $306,200 in restitution to victim banks.

All seven defendants in the case are Venezuelan nationals.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City is prosecuting the case.  FBI Special agents are investigating the case.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated April 3, 2019