Office Space Just Inspired An Alleged Theft By A Tech Worker

A man named Ermenildo Castro was inspired by Office Space and devised a system to send fees meant for his employer, to his bank account.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

office space

If you’ve ever had a mindless tech job, you probably laugh quite a bit at the movie Office Space. After all, it’s fun to laugh with our underdog heroes, especially when they devise a method of stealing money from the company they work for. However, nobody is a bigger fan than Ermenildo Castro, a man who was so inspired by the movie that he allegedly wrote code to send customer fees that would normally go to his employer (Zulily.com) into his own bank accounts instead.

In the film Office Space, the chief protagonist is Peter Gibbons, and he gets sick of working for the tech company Initech. Eventually, he decides to get revenge in a very unique way: by installing a virus on company computers that helps divert fractions of pennies that should go into company coffers into his own. And the only reason that he and his scheming coworkers don’t get caught is that the building they are working in burns down, conveniently erasing any evidence of their crimes.

office space

In real life, Ermenildo Castro was a software engineer who allegedly wrote special code that affected the checkout page for his employer. Authorities allege that this allowed him to divert $260,000 directly while also buying $41,000 in merchandise for a fraction of what it was worth. To top things off, he allegedly even had the plan to erase evidence of his crime that was labeled “Office Space Project” on his computer.

As fans of the movie know, there wasn’t a real plan in Office Space to hide the characters’ crimes. Instead, the hope was that they were stealing such small amounts that the theft would generally go unnoticed. In real life, Castro’s big plan was to allegedly disable the alarm logging for the company and to manipulate the audit logs in such a way as to disguise what he had done.

Despite all of the alleged computer manipulation, the real smoking gun for Castro’s crime is that he had boxes upon boxes of merchandise from his company outside his door and even in his driveway. Police headed to his home to investigate the alleged crime and discovered an abundance of boxes. At first, they claim Castro tried to pretend the merchandise was sent to him by mistake, which led him to truly channel the energy of the characters from Office Space.

When police asked Castro why he didn’t simply return the merchandise that was allegedly sent to him in error, the response was quite simple. Castro allegedly told the police that once his employer fired him, his opinion boiled down to “f— ‘em.” Unlike the film Office Space, though, Castro was caught, and the evidence around him seems fairly damning.

Still, for pop culture fans, this is a delightfully meta “art imitates life” kind of moment. In the film Office Space, the initial scheme to steal money from the company was inspired by a similar scheme in a Superman movie. Now, the newer movie has inspired its own alleged crime, and we now have proof that this scheme isn’t as foolproof as fans of these movies may think.