10 Times People Exploited Technology Glitches like a Pro
6 In 2007, a woman pleaded guilty to exploiting a glitch on a company’s website to scam them out of more than $412,000.
Quantina Moore-Perry once discovered a glitch on the QVC home-shopping network’s website. She then used this bug to her advantage and scammed the company out of more than $412,000. Between March and November 2005, Moore-Perry received about a thousand items she did not pay for, including handbags, jewelry, electronics, housewares, and more. She placed orders for these items and then immediately canceled them, receiving credit. However, due to the glitch on the company’s website, the canceled items were still delivered. Moore-Perry then sold the items on eBay, making a huge profit.
Unfortunately for her, suspicions soon grew when two of her customers saw that the items were still in their QVC packaging. They then contacted the company, alerting them to the scam. In 2007, the woman pleaded guilty to the charges of wire fraud in a federal court and was released pending sentencing. She also agreed to return the more than $412,000 she made from the scam. (1, 2)
7 A blind genius once accidentally discovered that he could make free phone calls by whistling tones into the telephone.
Josef Carl Engressia Jr., later known as “Joybubbles,” was born on 25 May 1949. At a very young age, he made an accidental discovery that eventually placed him in a pivotal role in the 1970s subculture of “phone phreaks.” Telephone systems at the time were often controlled by various audio frequencies. A blind genius with excellent pitch, Joybubbles once managed to imitate a sound in the background of a long-distance call, and the line was cut off. This was because his whistle had precisely matched a 2,600-hertz signal that was used to indicate the end of a call. Doing so would then leave an open carrier line that one could exploit to make free calls.
By the time Joybubbles was in university, he was dialing toll-free numbers or non-working numbers to reach a distant switching point. He could then use whistles to make another call for free and jump anywhere in the phone system. However, his phone violations did not go completely unpunished. He was suspended from college and even arrested for his activities, but all of this only led to him being hailed as a cultural icon. In 2007, Joybubbles passed away at the age of 58. (1, 2)
8 In 2019, a trading platform reportedly had a software bug that allowed users to trade with an unlimited amount of borrowed cash.
In 2019, it was reported that Robinhood Markets, Inc.’s trading system had a software issue. This bug created an “infinite money cheat code” that allowed users to trade with an unlimited amount of borrowed cash. The glitch was first uncovered by Reddit users on the forum “r/WallStreetBets.” One post there even showed a user exploiting the glitch to turn a $4,000 stake into a $1 million position.
To get the unauthorized trade to work, users who pay a premium for Robinhood Gold could sell call options with money borrowed through the system. Robinhood would then incorrectly add this to the user’s cash pile, giving them more capital to trade with. So, the more a user borrowed, the more the platform would add to their buying power. There also appeared to be no limit to how much this bug could be exploited. A spokesperson later stated that Robinhood was aware of this bug and was “communicating directly with customers.” The company eventually closed off the loophole and suspended accounts that were using the glitch. (1, 2, 3)
9 A bookmaker’s employee once exploited a glitch that allowed people to place bets on past events.
Gavin Thomson was an employee at Coral, a UK-based chain of betting shops. In the summer of 2015, he learned of a glitch in their computer system that allowed people to place bets on events that had already ended. Using his knowledge of the results, he then got his friends and customers to place bets on his behalf.
But in January 2016, when a regional risk assessor discovered this glitch, they were able to connect the dots. They then found numerous bets processed by Thomson that had been placed after an event had taken place. Authorities also revealed that he was making up to £1,000 per shift by running this scam, earning a total of £40,300 (around $45,000 today). In 2018, Thomson reportedly pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud committed between October 2015 and January 2016. (source)
10 In 2022, DoorDash customers exploited a bug on the company’s website to order free groceries and food.
DoorDash customers found a rare cause for celebration in 2022 when they discovered a software bug on the platform that allowed them to order things for free. Using this glitch, people ordered thousands of dollars’ worth of food and groceries without paying a dime. Given how we live in a digital age, it was only natural that people would take to social media platforms to discuss this event.
And so, many of these purchasers posted about their loot online. Some also talked about blocking their bank cards to prevent DoorDash from retroactively charging them. However, there were also a few who simply made memes about the incident and its potential consequences. A DoorDash spokesperson confirmed the glitch and said that the company was actively canceling fraudulent orders. The company also said that they were trying to make sure impacted merchants received appropriate compensation. (1, 2)
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