Former software engineer charged for theft scheme inspired by 'Office Space' film

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A former Seattle software engineer has been charged with theft for a scheme to steal more than $300,000 from the online shopping company Zulily that was inspired by the 1999 black comedy film "Office Space."

Ermenildo Valdez Castro, 28, planned the scheme to steal shipping fees charged by his employer inspired by the plot of the Mike Judge film, according to police records obtained by KIRO and CNN.


In the film, which satirizes the office culture of a typical software firm in the 1990s, Ron Livingston's character Peter Gibbons undergoes personality-altering hypnosis that drives him into professional apathy. He conspires with two fellow disgruntled workers to steal from their employer in a series of microtransactions that divert fractions of pennies into a separate bank account.

Castro, who began working for Zulily in December 2018, allegedly started making changes to the online retail company's software earlier this year, according to police records.

His code allegedly applied a small percentage to Zulily customer checkouts and sent the shipping fees associated with those purchases to a bank account he controlled.


When Zulily began an internal investigation, Castro allegedly wrote a new code that double-charged some customers for shipping and sent the fees to Zulily and his separate account.

Castro allegedly planned the scheme in a OneNote document on his work laptop titled "OfficeSpace Project" and told police that his scheme was inspired by the film.

He was arrested by police in June but charges of theft in the first degree and identity theft in the first degree were not filed by prosecutors until Dec. 20, CNN reported.

Castro was fired from his job in June after members of the company's corporate security team found boxes that had contained stolen merchandise outside of his home.

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