A former Microsoft tech worker is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after being charged with mail fraud for allegedly attempting to steal $10m (£8m) in digital currency from the company, some of which, it is claimed, he used to buy a posh car and a $1.6m (£1.3m) mansion.
Volodymyr Kvashuk, who lives in Renton, Washington in the States, initially worked for Microsoft as a contractor before joining the tech giant in August 2016 to work in Microsoft’s Universal Store Team (UST), which handles e-commerce operations.
The main role for UST members is to set up dummy customer accounts with the Microsoft online store linked to specially created email addresses and test-in-production credit cards for making store purchases without generating an actual charge.
Team members then white-list their test accounts to bypass Microsoft’s security and risk mitigation systems.
According to the filing, the testing programme was designed to block the delivery of physical goods but failed to prevent testers from buying Microsoft digital gift cards and obtaining a valid product key that could be redeemed to a digital wallet. These funds could then be used to buy digital or physical Microsoft products from its store.
It is alleged that Kvashuk bought some Microsoft goods but sold most of the currency he stole – a cool $10m worth – to third-parties, at a discount.
The scheme supposedly began in 2017 and escalated to the point that Kvashuk, on a base annual salary of $116,000 (£93,000), bought himself a $162,000 (£130,000) Tesla and $1.6m (£1.3m) home it is claimed.
Kvashuk was fingered when Microsoft’s UST fraud investigation unit noticed a suspicious increase in the use of digital currency to buy subscriptions to Microsoft’s Xbox (pictured). The investigators traced the digital funds, which had been resold on two different websites, to two white-listed test accounts.
He was fired in June 2018.
With the assistance of the US Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service, Microsoft investigators concluded that Kvashuk had defrauded the company, despite his efforts to conceal his identity.
The authorities want Kvashuk to be detained, claiming that he may attempt to flee the country or obstruct justice.
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