The zero-hour work week? Star U.S. programmer outsourced his job to China
Published Thursday, January 17, 2013 12:18PM EST
Call it a win for the just-so-sick-of-work employee.
A U.S. computer developer who apparently outsourced his job to a third party in China -- for a fraction of his salary -- is being hailed as a business savant by online admirers.
Instead, the employee -- identified only as “Bob” -- used his 9-to-5 hours to peruse Reddit, watch cat videos, update his Facebook profile and shop on eBay.
The barely-believable scheme is outlined in a post published this week to Verizon Business’s security-focused blog.
According to senior investigator Andrew Valentine, the scam continued for months before it was discovered by Verizon’s forensic security team.
The company -- described only as being in the critical infrastructure industry -- first became aware of the issue when some “anomalous activity” was spotted in its VPN logs.
A VPN login extends a company’s private network outside the office, via the Internet, essentially allowing employees to securely work from home. Since the company had been shifting toward a telecommute-heavy workforce for some time, a number of its employees were logging in remotely on a daily basis.
But a review of the company’s logs revealed an active connection thousands of kilometres away: in Shenyang, China.
Fearing hackers, the company called in Verizon to probe the apparent breach.
While it was easy to identify that Bob’s VPN was the one being comprised, investigators became confused when they saw the computer programmer sitting at his desk each day, staring into his monitor.
As a first order of business, Verizon took a forensic snapshot of the files on Bob’s computer.
“What we found surprised us,” Valentine wrote.
On Bob’s computer were hundreds of PDF invoices from a third-party contractor in Shenyang, China, billing him for work he was supposed to be doing himself.
Investigators quickly pieced together the scheme by reviewing the day-to-day activity taking place on Bob's computer, showing hours spent surfing the web.
And while Bob pulled in a six-figure salary, he paid the third-party Chinese firm completing the work about $50,000 annually, Valentine said.
What’s more, it seems that Bob -- described as a “family man” in his mid-40s -- was a model employee.
Verizon’s investigation profiled him as an “inoffensive and quiet” guy who was well-versed in a range of computer-programming languages.
“Someone you wouldn’t look twice at in an elevator,” wrote Valentine.
And Bob -- a long-time employee -- was regularly pulling in “excellent” performance reviews that noted he submitted “clean, well-written” code in a timely fashion.
In fact, he took home top marks for his position. “Quarter after quarter, his performance review noted him as the best developer in the building,” Valentine wrote.
And while it’s unlikely that Bob held onto his job, most of the comments posted to the Verizon blog this week praised Bob for his business savvy.
“Where’s the problem? He improved his personal profit and the quality and efficiency of his work,” one commenter wrote. “This guy is an American hero and deserves a medal.”
Added another: “He managed a multi project setup, (is) able to communicate the requirements to remote ‘team members,’ deals with different time zone, delivers (on) time, with good quality … Sounds like he was just in the wrong position.”