With a plan that resembled something out of a TV show, Scott Spriggs and Adam Johnston may go down in history as the most ingenious inmates ever seen by the state of Ohio.
Inmates Build Internet-Connected Computers In Prison
According to an investigation report by the Office of the Inspector General of the state of Ohio, Marion Correctional Institution inmates Spriggs and Johnston were able to build two computers, hid them in the prison's ceiling, and then connected the computers to the facility's network.
The Marion Correctional Institution utilizes inmate labor for the recycling of the parts of old computers under the RET3 program, a non-profit organization that looks to divert computer equipment from being thrown into landfills.
Spriggs and Johnston, however, did more than just break down old computers to siphon parts that can be recycled. They were able to acquire enough parts to build two computers due to there being no adequate supervision.
The inmates took two of the computers that were for disassembly, inserted hard drives and network cards into them, and then transported them from their work area across the facility over a distance of 1,100 feet. Spriggs and Johnston were able to do so without being caught by the prison's staff, and were also able to ride an elevator to the third floor and placed the computers in the ceiling over a closet of a training room.
The inmates then ran ethernet cables across the ceiling and into the network switch, through which they gained access to the internet through the credentials of a retired prison employee now working with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
What Did The Inmates Use The Computers For?
The inmates utilized the technology that they scraped together to acquire articles covering topics such as home-made drugs, explosives, plastics, and credit cards. They also committed identity theft by stealing the credentials of another inmate, using his information to send in applications for several credit cards.
Spriggs and Johnston also used the internet connection to download massive amounts of porn that they shared with their fellow inmates through thumb drives. In addition to porn, they also downloaded newly released movies, TV programs, and music.
Investigators also discovered that the computers contained software used for encryption and hacking activities, such as brute force password crackers, an email spam tool, and a Java-based program for launching man-in-the-middle attacks. This suite of software allowed the inmates to grant passes to several inmates to enter several areas with the Marion Correctional Institution, as well as access the records of inmates that included information on sentencing, disciplinary records, and locations.
How Were The Inmates Caught?
Despite all the preparation and ingenuity displayed by the inmates, they were caught because a system notification informed a staff of the facility that the daily internet usage of a retired employee's account exceeded the limit.
The notification was deemed fishy because the employee only worked from Monday to Thursday, and the message was sent out on a Friday.
The computers were subsequently found, and the offending inmates shipped to other facilities. The incident happened back in 2015, but has only been revealed to the public after the publication of the report by Office of the Inspector General.