Software engineer arrested for stealing from online retailers using schematic from Office Space movie

A software engineer has been charged with identity theft after allegedly stealing from an online retailer using a scheme inspired by the cult classic Office Space.

Ermenildo “Ernie” Castro, 28, was arrested in December and charged with two counts of first-degree theft and first-degree identity theft, according to court documents obtain from the Seattle Times.

Prosecutors allege that Castro used his position as a software engineer at Zulily, an online retailer based in Seattle, Washington, to edit computer scripts to steal more than $300,000. Indictment papers say he stole about $260,000 worth of electronic payments and about $40,000 worth of goods.

Castro was fired from the company in July and discovered a file on his laptop called “Office Space Project” detailing the scheme.

The 1999 film describes a similar scheme of software engineers working at a company they hate. They plant a virus that withdraws small amounts of money from transactions into a private account they control. When a bug threatens to uncover the plan, an independent clerk burns down the building and destroys the evidence, preventing the collaborators from what they believe is federal prison time with enemy cellmates.

Loading documents said Castro would tamper with the software so he could buy Zulily products for pennies on the dollar. One example given was a sofa bed that retailed for $565.99, which he could buy for a dollar.

Police said Castro told them all the money he stole was gone after investing in risky stock options.

Zulily security officers also claimed they found boxes of his products shipped to his Tacoma home and “stacked on the doorstep and driveway of the house.”

Here is a scene from the film:

Office Space (2/5) Film CLIP – Bad Case of the Mondays (1999) Software engineer arrested for stealing from online retailers using schematic from Office Space movie

Laura Coffey

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