Developer Outsourced His Own Job To China And Profited Handsomly


Verizon’s security team did a write-up on a case they helped a company investigate which reads like a plot-line for “Office Space 2.” A programmer they nicknamed Bob privately outsourced his own job to China and spent his day surfing the Internet.

The guy was caught when the company noticed that their VPN server was being accessed frequently from China. Fearing malware or other espionage, they had forensic security professionals from Verizon investigate their systems.

The Verizon Security Blog isn’t responding (hence no link, but here’s the Google cache version), but here’s how they concluded the story:

As it turns out, Bob had simply outsourced his own job to a Chinese consulting firm. Bob spent less that one fifth of his six-figure salary for a Chinese firm to do his job for him. Authentication was no problem, he physically FedExed his RSA token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday. It would appear that he was working an average 9 to 5 work day. Investigators checked his web browsing history, and that told the whole story.

A typical ‘work day’ for Bob looked like this:

9:00 a.m. – Arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours. Watch cat videos

11:30 a.m. – Take lunch

1:00 p.m. – Ebay time.

2:00 – ish p.m Facebook updates – LinkedIn

4:30 p.m. – End of day update e-mail to management.

5:00 p.m. – Go home

Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going across multiple companies in the area. All told, it looked like he earned several hundred thousand dollars a year, and only had to pay the Chinese consulting firm about fifty grand annually. The best part? Investigators had the opportunity to read through his performance reviews while working alongside HR. For the last several years in a row he received excellent remarks. His code was clean, well written, and submitted in a timely fashion. Quarter after quarter, his performance review noted him as the best developer in the building.

If you’re thinking “Office Space,” here’s the quote…

Bob Slydell: You see, what we’re actually trying to do here is, we’re trying to get a feel for how people spend their day at work… so, if you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
Bob Slydell: Great.
Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door – that way Lumbergh can’t see me, heh heh – and, uh, after that I just sorta space out for about an hour.
Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I’m working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.

This guy’s plan was way better than the Superman III plan the guys in Office Space used to try to get back at the company.

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  • EricSteel

    So that’s what happened to Jay Tea!

    • Commander_Chico

      Isn’t Jay Tea in the can?

    • MartinLandauCalrissian

      I guess I missed Jay Tea. That wasn’t his real name, right? It was his screen name?

  • Commander_Chico

    This is a window on a world few people know. There is a whole culture of hired guns who work for Verizon and other companies doing programming. They are often recruited by companies who charge them out at amounts like $150 per hour, then pay the programmers half, say $75 per hour. Still not bad. The hired guns incorporate for tax purposes, so that would be an easy conduit and maybe even the guy claimed it as a deduction.

    Knowing how these guys (and a few women among them) operate, this was not surprising.

    • EricSteel

      You make it all sound like a bad thing. Most companies use contractors and consultants for work. It works out well for the companies because they can utilize qualified professionals when needed, and not pay for high dollar professionals when not needed.

      If you are 100% billable, $75/hr comes out to $150,000/yr. Wow that contracting company is getting $150,000/yr too. Isn’t that all profit? The reality is that most contractors are not 100% billable, which is the reason that contracting companies charge $150/hr. The difference pays for lost revenue from benchtime, PTO, benefits and overhead.

      • Commander_Chico

        No, it’s not a bad thing, except that the recruiters/middlemen do what the programmer did in this case – sub out the actual work. I haven’t been in touch with that world for awhile, but why Verizon relied on the middlemen and why the programmers did not organize themselves in a different way to get more out of their work was a mystery to me. The recruiters were collecting huge rents out of having a list of names.

  • LiberalNightmare

    I see some real management ptotential there.

  • Meiji_man

    This is right out of Tim Ferris’s “4 Hour Work Week”

    • That was my first thought when I saw it myself. I was like, smart cookie right there.

      Edit: Probably would have gone un-noticed if he had used an Indian firm.

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