CHINA / SOCIETY
Five Chinese university students sentenced to up to 2.5 years in jail for swindling free KFC meals
Published: May 11, 2021 06:43 PM
Photo: IC

Photo: IC

 

A group of university students from East China's Jiangsu Province were given prison sentences of up to two-and-a-half years for fraud after they took advantage of loopholes in KFC's mobile applications to obtain free meals and make profits, and caused over 200,000 yuan ($311,74) in economic losses to the company.

A student surnamed Xu studying at a university in Jiangsu happened to find loopholes in KFC's mobile application and WeChat account through which he could swindle the systems for meals or coupons without actually paying for them. 

Since April 2018, Xu not only ordered free meals for himself but also sold the meals and coupons to others to make a profit. Meanwhile, he taught four other students how to obtain the free items. 

Between April and October 2018, Xu's behavior caused economic losses of more than 58,000 yuan to Shanghai-based Yum China Holdings Inc., the operator of KFC restaurants in China. Economic losses caused by the other four students ranged from 8,900 yuan to 47,000 yuan. 

The Xuhui District People's Court in Shanghai ruled that Xu should be given a prison sentence of two-and-a-half years and was fined 6,000 yuan for the crimes of fraud and imparting criminal methods, while the other four defendants with the same charges were sentenced to jail sentences ranging from 15 months to two years and fined between 1,000 yuan and 4,000 yuan. 

The case stirred a heated discussion online with many internet users questioning how taking advantage of the system's bugs breaks the law. 

The Xuhui court explained to the Global Times on Tuesday that such behaviors are similar to when someone withdraws cash from an ATM but takes extra cash from a malfunctioning ATM. In China, such behaviors constitute unjustified enrichment. The five students' behaviors in this case constituted the crime of fraud because they swindled the ordering system for free meals.
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