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MacNut
Mar 21, 2010, 06:08 PM
More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments.

Police with Austin’s High Tech Crime Unit on Wednesday arrested 20-year-old Omar Ramos-Lopez, a former Texas Auto Center employee who was laid off last month, and allegedly sought revenge by bricking the cars sold from the dealership’s four Austin-area lots.

“We initially dismissed it as mechanical failure,” says Texas Auto Center manager Martin Garcia. “We started having a rash of up to a hundred customers at one time complaining. Some customers complained of the horns going off in the middle of the night. The only option they had was to remove the battery.”

The dealership used a system called Webtech Plus as an alternative to repossessing vehicles that haven’t been paid for. Operated by Cleveland-based Pay Technologies, the system lets car dealers install a small black box under vehicle dashboards that responds to commands issued through a central website, and relayed over a wireless pager network. The dealer can disable a car’s ignition system, or trigger the horn to begin honking, as a reminder that a payment is due. The system will not stop a running vehicle.
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/03/hacker-bricks-cars/

MacDawg
Mar 21, 2010, 06:12 PM
Not sure which I find more distasteful, the actions of the former employee or the actions of the dealership installing the black box to begin with

mkrishnan
Mar 21, 2010, 06:16 PM
Not sure which I find more distasteful, the actions of the former employee or the actions of the dealership installing the black box to begin with

There was a big controversy with a Detroit-area dealer (Mel Farr), around a decade ago, who was using these kinds of devices in conjunction with fairly usurious lease agreements aimed at the poor.

MacNut
Mar 21, 2010, 06:18 PM
Do they tell the costumers of these device when they buy the car.

TechieJustin
Mar 21, 2010, 06:25 PM
Were these disabling devices installed on cars that weren't leased?
What people who paid cash? :confused:

Peterkro
Mar 21, 2010, 06:30 PM
A tradition:

TSX
Mar 21, 2010, 06:38 PM
I knew someone who had one of these on their car before. Basically what its there for is, if some fails to make a payment the car gets disabled after it has been turned off. Forcing you to make the payment so you can use your car again. Usually is the small car dealerships that don't check credit on their customers that have these kinda of devices.

nate13
Mar 21, 2010, 11:40 PM
I knew someone who had one of these on their car before. Basically what its there for is, if some fails to make a payment the car gets disabled after it has been turned off. Forcing you to make the payment so you can use your car again. Usually is the small car dealerships that don't check credit on their customers that have these kinda of devices.

You'd think anybody with a soldering iron and some technical know-how with cars could just rewire it... but it seems like a very decisive way to ensure repayment.

pukifloyd
Mar 22, 2010, 04:28 PM
Not sure which I find more distasteful, the actions of the former employee or the actions of the dealership installing the black box to begin with

+1
weird... someone should complain about it...

Keebler
Mar 22, 2010, 11:30 PM
Not sure which I find more distasteful, the actions of the former employee or the actions of the dealership installing the black box to begin with

definitely the employee. As long as the black box is safe in terms of not causing an accident, I can't blame them for protecting their product given the current economy.

I was recently in the US for a week and it always floors me at how large of a machine it truly is. That is NOT an insult or a put down in any manner - just a matter of fact. I can see how easy it would be to get away with stuff so I don't blame the dealership at all.

jampat
Mar 25, 2010, 11:08 AM
Upset employees sometimes do stupid things. Took a brand-new boat out for a spin one time, thing wouldn't rev up past 2000 rpm. It turns out that a previous dealership had gone bankrupt and the employees pulled the spark plugs and drilled the pistons on the motors in the showroom. They put everything back together, so on the surface their wasn't even a mark (and it was two stroke, so you didn't see all the shavings during an oil change).

The dealership we got the boat from just thought they were buying a boat at auction and didn't realize its history.

GadgetGeek71
Mar 25, 2010, 11:13 AM
Not sure which I find more distasteful, the actions of the former employee or the actions of the dealership installing the black box to begin with

+1

Another way of letting big brother in your home...eh...car.

bigjnyc
Mar 25, 2010, 11:26 AM
+1
weird... someone should complain about it...

I'm sure it's buried in the contract somewhere. People are so eager to drive away with a car despite their bad credit that they just sign without reading over everything.

GadgetGeek71
Mar 25, 2010, 11:33 AM
Next thing you know, they'll put remote door locks on your house.

"Sorry, you must first first pay your mortgage before you can open the door...dumb @$$!"