Here's how a Microsoft employee stole $10 million in Xbox gift cards

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Xbox Logo (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • An engineer was hired to test Microsoft's e-commerce infrastructure.
  • Thanks to a glaring bug, the engineer was able to order real gift cards via testing methods.
  • He used this trick to accrue over $10 million in Xbox gift cards.

Volodymyr Kvashuk likely isn't a name you've heard before. Had his scheme gone according to plan, it would've stayed that way. But now he's at the center of a massive story that breaks down how he stole $10.1 million worth of Xbox gift cards directly from Microsoft.

As reported by Bloomberg, Kvashuk may face deportation back to his home country of Ukraine after serving his prison sentence, which ends in 2027. He will also have to pay back $8.3 million.

But how did he get saddled with such heavy punishments? The answer lies in the crime: The man got a job at Microsoft as a junior engineer in order to test the company's infrastructure and used that access to elaborately offload millions of dollars in gift cards to himself.

It all started when he discovered a bug in Microsoft's e-commerce innards when he received legitimate gift cards via fake credit card purchases. Microsoft's systems would prevent fake purchases from sending real physical goods (which was an example of operations working as intended), but they would dispense real digital goods, such as 5x5 Xbox gift card codes. Once Kvashuk realized what he'd happened upon, he took his fortunes to the next level and crafted a program that'd let him mass-withdraw gift cards.

It got to the point where his money-printing scheme was, according to prosecutors, "singularly responsible for global fluctuations in the price of Xbox gift cards on reseller markets."

You can read the full story on Bloomberg. It details everything from Kvashuk's background to the mistakes he made that allowed federal agents to catch up with him. If you've ever wanted to hear a story about Microsoft getting swindled from within, this is the Xbox-themed heist of a lifetime to read up on.

Alternatively, if you want to peruse Xbox topics that aren't rife with criminal intrigue, check out our review of the Xbox Series X and our guide to the best Xbox Game Pass games (we don't have a guide for the "best ways to steal Xbox gift cards").

Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to