A new account monitoring report used to test Microsoft's payment systems allowed an engineer to swindle himself by more than $ 10 million after selling Xbox gift cards for Bitcoin for two years. Bloomberg revealed this week.
To make sure its payment systems work, Microsoft employs engineers to “simulate” purchases in its stores. But shortly after joining the company in 2017, Volodymyr Kvashuk discovered that there was a flaw in the accounts that were used to prove purchases. Look, these simulated accounts are usually marked as such by the system and will not send you physical goods if you try to buy, for example, a new gamepad from your site. But if you try an Xbox gift card purchase, you would still receive a fully valid 25-digit code.
Kvashuk could have easily informed his bosses. But with unlimited free codes at his fingertips, he chose a different option.
At first, Kvashuk generated a handful of codes – a brazen $ 5 or $ 10 here or there. But there was the opportunity to make massive money that would change the life of this farm. He began scouring the mock profiles of his colleagues to hide their footprints, automating the process with a custom program that prosecutors would later describe as "created for one purpose and one purpose: to automate embezzlement and allow fraud and mass-scale robberies ".
After acquiring these codes, Kvashuk would head to crypto markets like Paxful to find potential sellers. They sold them in bulk at a relative discount, which buyers could sell to people who wanted to use the codes. Money laundering sites like ChipMixer would let him hide his trail and the proceeds were intended to facilitate an increasingly lavish lifestyle.
As Bloomberg points out, Kvashuk’s Microsoft salary was hardly stingy. But it wasn't the kind of money that allowed you to plan a seaplane, a yacht, and several luxury homes in Maui, California, and Mercer Island, among other places.
Microsoft finally pointed to Kvashuk's scams after noticing a sharp rise in gift card transactions, with federal agents finally attacking his home in July 2019. In court, Kvashuk tried to argue that the mass theft was simply an experiment to increase store spending.
Obviously, it didn’t fly. Kvashuk was sentenced to 9 years in prison, probably deported to his home country of Ukraine, and will be reimbursed $ 8.3 million. I’m afraid there are no gift cards in the world that cover this expense.