By Jules Faber.

Man hacks ATMs to steal $28,000

A PIZZA shop worker who devised an elaborate scam to steal more than $28,000 from automatic teller machines has walked free from court.

Over a seven-month period in 2007, 23-year-old Ashley Brian Sommer stole $21,120 from an ATM at a Bundaberg service station and $7500 from a machine on Maryborough Road, Hervey Bay.

Prosecutor Sarah Klemm told Bundaberg District Court the computer whiz 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.

He used his own cash card, his mother's, girlfriend's and two mates' cards for the withdrawals.

Sommer's two friends, Christopher Scott Lockyer and Roderic Cabanilla Read, faced Bundaberg Magistrates' Court on December 7, 2007.

Lockyer pleaded guilty to receiving stolen goods and Read pleaded guilty to computer hacking charges for his card's role in the scam.

They were sentenced to six months' probation and no conviction was recorded. The pair was also ordered to pay back $5460.

Ms Klemm argued for a two-year prison term for Sommer's part in the scam.

“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 what he stole.

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 def- endant's age, character refer- ences and his academic record when he sentenced the def- endant.

“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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