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Three Michigan men have pleaded guilty to hacking into the national computer system of the Lowe’s home improvement chain in an attempt to steal credit card information, federal authorities said Wednesday. Prosecutors said the case includes what may be the nation’s first conviction for “wardriving,” in which hackers search for vulnerable wireless Internet connections. The original indictment charged that Adam Botbyl and Paul Timmins drove around Southfield, Mich., in April 2003, searching for a vulnerable connection using a laptop computer equipped with a wireless card and a wireless antenna. Prosecutors say Botbyl, Timmons and Brian Salcedo got into Lowe’s central computer system through the wireless network of a Southfield Lowe’s store. They installed a program in the computer systems of several stores that was designed to capture credit card information from customers, the indictment said. Officials with the Mooresville, N.C.-based company said the men did not gain access to the company’s national database and they believed all customers’ credit card information was secure. Each man could have faced up to 170 years in prison if convicted on all counts, but pleaded guilty to reduced charges. Salcedo, of Whitmore Lake, Mich., pleaded guilty to conspiracy, transmitting computer code to cause damage to a computer, unauthorized computer access and computer fraud. Prosecutors will recommend that he serve 12 years and seven months in prison. Botbyl, of Waterford, Mich., pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and prosecutors recommended that he serve a three-year, five-month term. Timmins pleaded guilty to the so-called “wardriving” charge — unauthorized access to a protected computer. It was unclear what sentence prosecutors would seek. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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