A group of students who spotted a loophole in a KFC special offer and ended up collecting nearly £22,000 worth of free chicken have been jailed for fraud.
A university student named Xu from China’s eastern Jiangsu province was first to spot the bug in KFC’s mobile app in April 2018.
He realised that by switching between the app and the restaurant’s official account on WeChat he could generate an unlimited number of free food vouchers.
He soon had more chicken than he could eat himself, and started selling KFC meals to other students. He also told four friends how to do the free food trick.
Within six months, reports The Paper, Xu had cost Yum China Holdings — KFC’s parent company in China — some 58,000 yuan (about £6,400). His four mates also ran up their own bills, which varied between 8,900 yuan and 47,000 yuan.
By cashing in on KFC’s mistake, the five students had effectively committed fraud in the eyes of the Xuhui District People’s Court.
“Being fully aware of this bug, the convicted deliberately engaged in false transactions and illegally profited from them, which constituted the crime of fraud,” court papers said.
By sharing his trick with the four other students Xu had, in Chinese law, committed a crime that carries its own five-year sentence.
However, Xu earned the court’s leniency by turning himself in and pleading guilty to the offence. He also reportedly paid an undisclosed sum to KFC in compensation.
Xu’s five-year sentence was reduced just two and a half years, and he was also handed a fine of 6,000 yuan (about £650).
The four students that were in on Xu’s scam were handed sentences varying between 15 months and two years in prison, and fined between 1,000 to 4,000 yuan apiece.
The case has been a viral topic on Chinese social media network Weibo over the past few days, with some saying Xu should have reported the bug to KFC straight away and others maintaining that it was KFC’s mistake and Xu merely took advantage of it.
What’s your take? Did Xu deserve a prison sentence? Let other Star readers know in the comments below.
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