Man Hacks Gift Card Database: Was It For Research, Or To Score Free Stuff?

Running out of funds on your store gift card is a total bummer. While most of us would just pay with our own cash or buy another gift card. For a Virginia man, there was another option: circumvent a computer database

The computer whiz contends that the hacking effort was just for research, but that hasn’t stopped federal investigators from probing the situation, NBC Washington reports.

In all, the man admits he was able to load a Sears card with at least $500, a K-Mart card with $495, a Whole Foods card with $300 and a Starbucks card with $100, but he says he never used any of the cards to make purchases.

“My mission is just to see where the loopholes are, where to expose them and probably develop solutions to counter them,” the teen says.

The investigation began when the man allegedly boasted to a coworker at his cyber security job about a code he’d created that enabled him to take an ordinary $25 gift card and add value to it.

A short time later, federal investigators searched the alleged hacker’s home and seized computers, phones and other electronics.

According to a search warrant affidavit filed by the Department of Homeland Security, the man is under investigation for computer fraud.

A sworn signed statement was obtained from the subject. In the signed sworn statement, subject admitted to creating computer codes on his personal notebook computer to gain unlawful access to multiple e-commerce sites, including Shell Gas, Whole Foods, K-Mark, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. [He] has used his codes to trick the e-commerce systems into adding funds to gifts cards he has possession of without actually expending any money to do so. He admitted to using his program to add funds to other individuals’ gift cards without the need to actually expend funds.

Despite all eyes on him, the man doesn’t seem too concerned by the situation.

“I’ve heard stories of a lot of other hackers who have had similar experiences so I don’t think it’s a big deal,” he tells NBC Washington. “They should be more worried about what the tool can do if a malicious actor took it.”

GMU Grad Investigated for Hacking Gift Cards [NBC Washington]