Russian hackers take slot machine con to South America

  • Russian slot hacker gang spotted in Peru after US busts
  • Beats random number generators using video and smartphones

A hugely successful international syndicate of Russian slot machine hackers has popped up in South America, after being chased out of the US and Singapore. There are also indications that the operation is active in Europe.

Chased out of the USA, the Russian slot hackers appear to be targeting South America. Picture: Thinkstock
Chased out of the USA, the Russian slot hackers appear to be targeting South America. Picture: Thinkstock

In a plot that’s almost worthy of James Bond, the secretive and well-financed syndicate operating out of St Petersburg in Russia managed to scrape out millions in cash from slot machines in the US over a ten-year period before being finally run out of town.

Group moves to South America

The gang has most recently been seen in Peru, according to information passed on by a slot maker’s security consultants to US regulators while attending the Gaming Laboratories International conference in Las Vegas this month.

The big question is, how did the gang manage to operate without being detected for such a lengthy period of time? It wasn’t spotted in the US until 2014, with the FBI finally making arrests that same year. Then, later in 2016, the same gang were caught by Singapore police.

There is little known about the shadowy group, other than where law enforcement authorities suspect they are based. The syndicate could be made up of anywhere between 40 and 70 people. The difficulty, security consultants admit, is that the scam is exceptionally hard to spot.

System uses phone apps

The group reverse engineered the inputs of the RNG (random number generator), choosing machines and manufacturers that were used internationally. Devilishly simple, all they had to do was have a few of the group walk about the casino floors videoing the slot machines for a few weeks.

Next, some different gang members would come in and play the machines. All it took was a smartphone to video the slots and another smartphone running the app, which would then buzz to notify the player they needed to hit the button.

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