Hundreds of prison inmates in Idaho found a way to add hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of credit to their personal accounts, officials discovered this month. The prisoners were inflating their accounts with JPay, a service that inmates can use to communicate with the outside world; for example, by using secure tablets or kiosks to send emails or listen to music, the New York Times reports. The Idaho Department of Correction learned about the hacking on July 2. An investigation revealed that 364 inmates at five correctional facilities “had improperly credited their JPay accounts by $224,772.40,” said Jeff Ray, the department’s spokesman.
“This conduct was intentional, not accidental,” he said. “It required a knowledge of the JPay system and multiple actions by every inmate who exploited the system’s vulnerability to improperly credit their account.” The inmates inflated their accounts by taking advantage of a quirk in the system that did not cost taxpayers money. Of the 364 inmates, 50 credited their accounts with more than $1,000 apiece, and one person managed to accumulate nearly $10,000. In recent years, tablets designed for prison use have become increasingly popular. JPay is one of the country’s biggest prison financial services providers and has business in dozens of states. Inmates can use JPay to communicate with family members via emails, video calls and money transfers. Some can access music, simple games or reading materials.