Man with autism is arrested for allegedly scamming AWS

Published July 20th, 2018

don't mess with Amazon

Amazon Web Services spends a lot of time enticing companies to move their data to the cloud – but transferring petabytes of data isn’t always a straightforward task. AWS has implemented a service called Snowball to make it easier. Essentially, Amazon ships you some Snowball appliances, you put your data on them, and send the appliance back to AWS. The idea is by no means new (see sneakernets), but the scale at which AWS has implemented it is still impressive.

But what happens when someone simply doesn’t return one of these devices? An Australian man was arrested for doing just that – he’s been accused of stealing 31 of the devices that he ordered over a year ago.

Christopher Hawker is the 26-year old tech worker who was arrested wednesday in a joint FBI/NSW (Australian police) operation. He’s since posted bail, which his attorney argued for based on Christopher’s autism – apparently his condition would leave him vulnerable behind bars. According to AWS, if the devices aren’t returned within 90 days, they may mark them as ‘lost’ and charge a ‘lost device fee’. The Snowball devices come in 50 and 80 terabyte versions.

AWS charges a $250 service fee per 80-TB appliance – so it would only cost $7750 to order 31, and the value of the devices is approximately $600,000. Australian police located the devices in Hawker’s home, in various states of disrepair. Police believe that Hawker intended to sell components harvested from the devices. Hawker will appear before the court again on August 8th.

Christopher also been banned from using Amazon, and from using the internet except for work as conditions of his bail.


source: Australian AP