It is the greatest ethical quandary of our time: You stumble upon a hack that allows you to procure free snacks from the vending machine — do you, or do you not, exploit the hack and take the snacks? Apparently, if you’re a CIA contractor, the answer is yes.
According to documents recently obtained by BuzzFeed News through a FOIA lawsuit, a declassified Office of Inspector General report details the thefts, which went on from fall 2012 through March 2013. The scheme, we’ll be frank, was actually quite brilliant: The contractors would disconnect a cable that linked the vending machines to an electronic-payment system called FreedomPay, and then they’d use “unfunded FeedomPay cards” to get the snacks for free, like criminal geniuses. Per BuzzFeed News:
After being informed of the thefts, the OIG installed “surveillance cameras at several key vending locations where a high occurrence of thefts were taking place,” according to the report. “Video footage recovered from the surveillance cameras captured numerous perpetrators engaged in the FreedomPay theft scheme, all of whom were readily identifiable as Agency contract personnel,” the report states.
Several contract employees were identified as suspects, although one “unidentified” man was pinpointed as the mastermind of the whole operation, according to BuzzFeed News. But they all apparently broke pretty easily, as they “quickly” admitted to the thefts, surrendered their badges, were escorted out of the building, and then were fired by their respective employers.
In total, the workers are believed to have stolen $3,314.40 worth of sweet, sweet vending-machine snacks. The Department of Justice reportedly declined to press charges, presumably because they were too impressed by the scheme in the first place.