Oft is the case that art reflects life, and vice-versa. Sometimes you can stumble upon a story or real-life incident that reminds you of a plot of a television series or film. Then there are the times where someone is actually inspired by a piece of media directly. Leave it to the cult classic film, “Office Space” to be that kind of inspiration someone needed to pull off a crime worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Zulily is an online shopping company that specializes largely in clothing and household items. Ermenildo Valdez Castro was a software engineer for the company from the end of 2018 through to June of 2022. Castro may not have been a big fan of the company that employed him but he did seem to be a fan of “Office Space” considering he concocted a plan to steal shipping fees from the company. And in case you’re thinking, “Well just because he’s stealing from his company through a software code, it doesn’t mean he was necessarily inspired by the movie.” And you’d be right. Except he named his endeavor OfficeSpace Project.
Castro’s scheme apparently had different facets to it that resulted in him profiting from the malicious code he was writing. One part of it came from the kickback of shipping fees into a personal account that he owned. The other part of the plan came from a code he had written to alter the fees of certain items that he ordered for himself. He told the company that it was part of a testing program, and that the code would cancel out the orders without them getting shipped. Naturally, the items were indeed shipped and received.
While Castro has still awaiting a court date, he already confessed much of these details to the police. Then again, it’s not like he’d be able to put up much of a defense. The fraud team at Zulily had caught onto the situation by taking note of the altered prices and police literally discovered a OneNote document that had the details of the OfficeSpace Project on it. In other words, you don’t exactly have to be Benoit Blanc to crack this case open.
In a staggering coincidence, the total approximate amount Castro stole before being caught, in terms of products and cash, totaled over $300,000. This is, of course, the same amount that was stolen in “Office Space.”
Our favorite part of the story is Castro’s response to one of the questions police asked him. Castro had told the police that he threw away a number of the items he had ordered from Zulily. The authorities asked why he didn’t return them instead.
Castro’s response was a very succinct one: “F**k ’em.”
“Office Space” is available to stream on Hulu.