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Software Engineer Inspired by ‘Office Space’ Stole More Than $300,000

  • A Seattle software engineer is accused of stealing more than $300,000 from his former employer.
  • Court documents stated Ermenildo Valdez Castro was inspired by the cult 1999 movie “Office Space.”
  • He is charged with two counts of theft and one count of identity theft. 

A software engineer inspired by the movie “Office Space” has been accused of stealing funds and goods worth more than $300,000 from his company, court documents show. 

Ermenildo Valdez Castro, 28, from King County in Washington, is facing two charges of theft and one charge of identity theft, according to court documents seen by Insider. 

Castro is a former software engineer for the e-commerce site Zulily that’s based in Seattle, Washington. He joined the company in 2018 and was fired in June 2022.

Court documents stated he was directly involved in writing code for the customer checkout process. He allegedly created “three types of malicious code in the checkout process at Zulily.”

He is accused of stealing $302,278 by editing code to divert shipping fees to his personal Stripe account, stealing $261,885 in electronic payments and merchandise worth $40,842. 

The company’s fraud team found that Castro changed the code about May last year. He purchased 1,294 items, valued at $41,096, at a discounted rate of $253 in total. 

A document called “OfficeSpace project” was found on Castro’s work laptop, according to a report by the Seattle Police Department that was attached to the court documents. After being arrested on June 21, 2022, he told police he “named his scheme to steal from Zulily after the movie.”

In “Office Space”, Mike Judge’s 1999 black comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, workers introduced a computer virus into their company’s IT system to steal money in retaliation for cost-cutting and bad management. 

Castro admitted to placing the orders that were delivered to his home. He said they were part of a testing process that Zulily knew about, but claimed that “there was a script that was to be run shortly thereafter that would essentially cancel the order and ensure the orders did not process.”

The police report also said that when Castro was asked why he hadn’t returned the items, he said his view was “f*** ’em” after being fired.

When Castro returned his work laptop, Zulily’s cybersecurity found the “OfficeSpace project” document, which included the coding he used for his scheme. 

Castro is due to appear in King County Superior Court in Seattle on January 26.

He and Zulily didn’t respond to requests for comment from Insider.


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