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A 23-year-old university student was recently sentenced to two and a half years in prison for swindling KFC of about $31,000 in fast food, by taking advantage of an ordering loophole.

The student, surnamed Xu first discovered the glitch in 2018, and not only continued to use it to his benefit for the next six months, but he also shared it with friends and even profited financially from it.

The Jiangsu-based student accidentally realized that he could order free food by paying for it using coupons in the official KFC app, and then immediately asking for a refund of the coupons using the company’s WeChat account. It was any KFC’s fan dream come true, all the fried chicken you could eat, totally free.

Only Xu didn’t settle for free KFC; he reportedly started reselling the coupons online for profit, and shared his findings about the app flaws with four of his university colleagues.

From April to October, Xu caused economic losses of more than 58,000 yuan to the operator of KFC restaurants in China, while the losses generated by the other four students ranged from 8,900 yuan to 47,000 yuan. In total, the five allegedly caused over 200,000 yuan ($31,000) in economic losses to the company.

As we all know, nothing good lasts forever, and while Chinese media doesn’t go into detail about how the five were eventually caught, they were put on trial and recently convicted to prison time for fraud.

Xu himself received a sentence of 2.5 years behind bars and a 6,000 yuan fine, while his colleagues got between 15 months to two years, and fines between 1,000 and 4,000 yuan.

Ordering loophole allowed students to eat for free at KFC for six months
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The case sparked a heated debate on Chinese social media, with many people wondering if taking advantage of poorly designed software actually constitutes a crime.

Chinese authorities argued that it does, comparing the students actions in this case to withdrawing cash from a malfunctioning ATM and keeping any extra cash. In China, such behavior constitutes unjustified enrichment and is considered a crime.

I’m going to be honest and just admit that I would have benefitted from that ordering glitch myself. Maybe not sell it or share it with others, but come on, it’s free fried chicken, and I’m only human…