A prison in Columbus, Ohio discovered two fully functioning computers hidden in the ceiling of a ‘correctional institution' - and the PCs were even connected to the prison's network and used for a spot of fraud on the side.
Indeed, it was only the prisoners' excessive use of the internet that highlighted the computers' presence at Marion Correctional Institution, prompting an investigation. The computers were discovered in July 2015.
"Authorities say they were first tipped off to a possible problem in July, when their computer network support team got an alert that a computer ‘exceeded a daily internet usage threshold'. When they checked the login being used, they discovered an employee's credentials were being used on days he wasn't scheduled to work," according to ABC 6, one of the local television stations.
Five inmates were identified as the would-be Michael Dells. The prisoners had been able to build their own PC by purloining parts from a program where inmates dismantle PCs for recycling, which is intended to provide a foundation for learning computer skills.
The Ohio Inspector General, Randall Meyer, blamed lax supervision. "They were able to travel through the institution more than 1,100 feet without being checked by security through several check points, and not a single correction's staff member stopped them from transporting these computers into the administrative portion of the building. It's almost if it's an episode of Hogan's Heroes," Meyer told the television station.
However, the jail time clearly didn't turn the prisoners straight: one of the inmates applied for credit cards in the names of other inmates that he knew were serving long sentences. "They also found inmates used the computers to create security clearance passes that gave them access to restricted areas," reports ABC 6.
The five prisoners involved were moved to other institutions in Ohio.
Although it occurred almost two years ago, the episode was only highlighted in a recent report from the Office of the Ohio Inspector General, the state's prison watchdog.
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