Mastermind Microsoft thief who stole $10MILLION in Xbox gift cards to buy ‘lake house, boats and planes’ caught


A FORMER Microsoft worker has been sentenced to nine years in prison after pinching $10million in Xbox gift cards.

Volodymyr Kvashuk, who moved from Ukraine to the US for a career in computer science, bagged his mammoth haul using a loophole that he discovered in Microsoft’s payment testing apparatus, Bloomberg reports.

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A former Microsoft employee stole $10million worth of Xbox gift cards
Engineer Volodymyr Kvashuk used his ill-gotten games to buy a $1.675million house on Lake Washington with a boat dock

The 26-year-old was caught by feds living off the proceeds of his ill-gotten gains in a seven-figure lakefront home.

He had plans to buy a ski chalet, yacht, and seaplane, according to court documents and interviews with current and former Microsoft employees.

In November 2020, a judge sentenced Volodymyr to nine years in prison. His multimillion-dollar scheme had gone unnoticed for two years.

Volodymyr was hired at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington in 2017, as a junior engineer.

His job was to test the firm’s ecommerce system, which it uses to sell products ranging from consoles to online codes, for bugs.

That involved simulating payments using a fake credit card to “buy” items that, of course, Microsoft never processed or delivered.

However, Volodymyr realised that Xbox gift cards bought online and sent to an email inbox weren’t accounted for.

Volodymyr also splashed out $162,899 on a red Tesla Model S (stock)

Whenever he purchased one using the phony card, the Microsoft Store sent him a real 25-digital code that could be used on the Xbox online store.

Realising he’d stumbled upon a potential goldmine, Volodymyr chose to keep the loophole a secret from his managers.

He traded tens of thousands of gift cards for Bitcoin online and used the profits to fuel a lavish lifestyle.

He spent $162,899 on a red Tesla Model S and then a modern $1.7million house to match on Lake Washington with a boat dock.

According to Bloomgberg: “Volodymyr started small, generating Xbox cards in increments from $10 to $100. But his haul quickly escalated.

“By the time federal agents caught up with him almost two years later, he had stolen more than 152,000 Xbox gift cards, worth $10.1 million.”

To cover his tracks, Volodymyr used mock profiles belonging to his colleagues by guessing their passwords.

Microsoft eventually caught the thief and he was arrested

He also masked his internet traffic by routing his servers in Japan and Russia.

By January 2018, Volodymyr had created a computer programme that prosecutors described as being “created for one purpose: to automate embezzlement and allow fraud and theft on a massive scale.”

But Volodymyr’s scheme became so successful, and his purchases so extravagant, that Microsoft began to notice something was wrong.

His employer spotted a spike in online purchases from gift card codes and contacted police.

Federal agents raided the engineer’s home in July 2019. They found a note detailing his future investments, including a $4million home in Maui, a yacht, and a seaplane.

Volodymyr was found guilty of 18 federal felonies including six counts of money laundering and two counts of filing false tax returns.

Microsoft says the loophole he exploited has since been closed.


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