Crafty prisoners hid DIY computers, committed identity theft

And they stashed the machines in a ceiling. Yes, seriously.

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In what sounds like a plot line from Orange is the New Black, a pair of Ohio prison inmates took decommissioned computers, used them for nefarious purposes and hid them from guards by stashing the machines in a ceiling. According to regional news site Cleveland the two inmates, Adam Johnston and Scott Spriggs, pilfered computers that were supposed to be torn down and recycled and instead used them to connect to Ohio's Department of Rehabilitation and Correction network. They then created access cards for restricted areas.

Beyond that, investigators found porn, articles about "homemade drugs, plastics, explosives and credit cards" on the confiscated machines. To access the network, Johnston read a former prison employee's password over his shoulder. From there he got the Social Security Number of another inmate and applied for five credit and debit cards in said inmate's name. Johnston also messaged other inmates and his mother.

As the BBC reports, these computers were discovered when a user account's daily network usage amount had been exceeded. The thing is, that user was the employee-turned-contractor whose login credentials were pilfered by Johnston. And said contractor wasn't scheduled to work on the day of the overage. Whether it was Johnston or Spriggs who tried bypassing the prison's proxy server so they could access file-sharing sites hasn't been released.

That overage lead the prison staff to search for where the machines could be stored, and consequently to an Ethernet cable running into a tiled ceiling.

Here's the kicker: this all occurred in 2015 and the prison didn't report any of it to the proper authorities until recently, breaking all sorts of protocol in the process. "State investigators said prison officials waited too long to report the computers and also removed them and other materials from a crime scene before state troopers could examine it," Cleveland writes. Yeesh.

For its part, the Ohio state prison system has issued a statement regarding the matter:

"We appreciate the time the Inspector General's office has taken to conduct these investigations and we have already taken steps to address some areas of concern. We will thoroughly review the reports and take any additional steps necessary to prevent these types of things from happening again. It is of critical importance that we provide necessary safeguards in regards to the use of technology while still providing opportunities for offenders to participate in meaningful and rehabilitative programming."

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