A Russian hacker who goes only by the name Alex has spent 10 years hacking into the poker machines, basically turning them into virtual ATMs. Now tired of his life of crime, Alex wants to legitimately work with gaming machine manufactures – but getting out of the business is turning out to be more difficult than he anticipated. Alex works with a “legion of field agents” from around the world.
They visit casinos and use their phones to record footage of ‘vulnerable’ games that are likely to pay out soon. Alex then reverse engineers the pseudorandom number generators (PRNGs) and sends his colleagues a signal to let them know exactly when to hit the spin button to achieve the highest possible payout. Every week, this operation nets Alex upwards of $250 000. He has taken a sort of Robin Hood approach to his business.
Alex claims that he is helping to balance out the gambling market by taking money away from gaming venues. “Their job is to help casinos take money from the people; my job is to help myself and the people take money from the casinos,” he says. “Just a little counterweight to the global gambling system, where the house always wins.”
While the operation has proven itself successful for over 10 years, he’s ready to head out on the straight and narrow – but not after one last score. Last November, he approached Aristocrat asking for a payout in exchange for calling off his plans to compromise the company trademark.
Alex threatened to share details of the PRNG that powers popular pokies like 50 Lions and Heart of Gold with competitors, which would cause significant damage to Aristocrat’s bottom line. “Aristocrat is a high integrity company that has zero tolerance for unethical behaviour.
Accordingly, it did not pay nor has it ever paid extortion moneys,” says a spokesperson for Aristocrat. ““Aristocrat stands firmly behind the integrity of its products, which comply fully with all regulatory and technical standards at the time of their placement in market.” The company refused to negotiate, and Alex has set his sights on another gaming machine manufacturer.
It has been reported that he is now attempting to get in touch with IGT to propose similar demands.