Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2019

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Gaming execs: Despite reports, hackers didn’t touch ATMs

Gaming executives Wednesday disputed reports that hackers in town for the annual DEFCON conference over the weekend perpetrated frauds involving casino ATM machines.

Some broadcast and Internet reports said scammers had wheeled a fake ATM machine into the Riviera hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip with the goal of having people try to use it so the scammers could capture their card and PIN numbers.

That didn't happen, the Riviera said Wednesday.

In fact, the ATM in question in the hotel's convention lobby is owned by the hotel-casino and was deactivated as a security precaution while DEFCON was in town.

One Internet headline proclaimed: "Hacker exposes hacked Las Vegas ATM at DEFCON"

But it appears the Riviera and its security staff may have outsmarted the hackers by simply turning off the machine.

"Although it has been reported as an ATM machine purposely placed in the Riviera’s convention lobby by some unknown hacker to capture data on others that attempt to use it during DEFCON, the truth is, the Riviera-owned-and-operated ATM was turned off and the cash was removed as a precaution in preparation for the conference," Robert Vannucci, president of the Riviera, said in a statement.

Suggestions that hackers tampered with an ATM at the Rio hotel-casino also turned out to be untrue, said officials with Global Cash Access Inc. of Las Vegas, which operates ATMs at casinos around the country.

After hearing reports about problems with an ATM at the RIO, GCA's technology chief was sent to investigate Tuesday and found nothing wrong with the machines there, said Scott Dowty, GCA executive vice president of business development.

He said there have been recent problems at casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere known as "cash dispense errors" when customers try to obtain cash and their accounts are charged, but the machines don't dispense the cash. These problems are associated with a recent change in technology platforms involving certain machines -- but not those at the Rio, Dowty said.

He said customers who don't receive money because of machine errors should call GCA customer service at 800 644-0439.