King County tech worker arrested for ‘Office Space’-inspired felony theft

Dec 29, 2022, 8:56 PM | Updated: 8:59 pm

office space...

Ron Livingston, David Herman And Ajay Naidu Take Their Ultimate Revenge On Their Dreaded Nemesis, The Office Fax Machine In A Scene Of Twentieth Century Fox New Release "Office Space". (Photo By Getty Images)

(Photo By Getty Images)

Prosecutors said it was a case of life imitating art, only this time, no TPS reports were involved. Former Zulily employee Ernie Castro has been charged with stealing more than $300,000 from the company in a scheme straight out of the film “Office Space.”

“What’s interesting about this case is when the police looked at it, they saw that the scheme was very similar to the movie ‘Office Space,’” said Casey McNerthney with the King County Prosecutor’s Office. “And for folks who don’t know that movie, that’s where people are frustrated with their job, and put a malicious piece of software into the system to take fractions of a penny and put it into a separate bank account. And that’s what police allege happened here as well.”

Bothell man arrested for alleged hate crime shooting

McNerthney said Castro worked for a department that handled credit card processing at Zulily. According to charging documents, Castro inserted a line of code that resulted in a kickback of money from certain shipping fees on the website. The money was stolen from the company and customers.

Charging documents said it is not mere speculation that Castro was inspired by the film.

“When investigators looked at his work laptop, they found a document called ‘Office Space Project,’ ” an incredulous McNerthney told KIRO Newsradio. “It was actually called the Office Space Project,” he repeated. “And so not only did the scheme match the movie, it was also acknowledged in the police investigation that they found documents that were actually titled Office Space Project.”

McNerthney said investigators uncovered multiple schemes beyond the skimming of shipping fees. Charging documents claimed Castro heavily discounted expensive items and had them shipped to his home. All told, the ill-gotten gains totaled more than $300,000. In a striking similarity, that’s almost the same amount the characters in “Office Space” took from their employer.

Seattle tops national list for office space sales while pandemic-level vacancy rates persist

But the real-life Zulily appeared to have better safeguards than the fictional Initech company from the film. According to prosecutors, Zulily auditors quickly caught on to the schemes and alerted the police.

“What happened in the movie was everything works out in the end. Staplers at all,” McNerthney said. He told us this won’t have a happy Hollywood ending. “Unfortunately, in reality, you don’t end up with Jennifer Aniston and a cult classic,” he said. “What you end up with is two counts of felony theft and one count of felony ID theft.”

Castro has been formally charged with the crimes, and is expected to enter a plea later next month.

MyNorthwest News

uw president cauce...

Frank Sumrall

UW President Ana Mari Cauce to step down after 10 years

UW President Ana Mari Cauce will step down from leading the university once her second five-year term ends in June 2025.

3 hours ago

Image: All lanes on Interstate 5 south in Everett were closed on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. It cause...

Steve Coogan

All lanes have reopened on I-5 south in Everett after an unexpected closure

All lanes reopened on Interstate 5 (I-5) south in Everett after an incident closed them Wednesday, the Department of Transportation reported.

3 hours ago

Image: A dog was found around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at Colman Dock in Seattle without ...

Steve Coogan

Is your friend missing? Dog found on a Washington ferry without its owner

A dog was found without its owner in Seattle early Wednesday and Washington State Ferries is attempting to reunite the two.

3 hours ago

Photo: Front and back of Olympic "Boys in the Boat" rower John White's gold medal....

Julia Dallas

‘Part of our legacy’: ‘Boys in the Boat’ rower’s family yearns to bring gold medal home

"Boys in the Boat" rower John White's Olympic gold medal was put up for auction. His grandson Colby White is fighting to get it back.

4 hours ago


Feliks Banel

Frank Sinatra still sings in Seattle

On a late spring day nearly 60 years ago, one of the biggest names in show business came to Seattle and played a concert on a Sunday evening. It turned out to be a show that’s been echoing in some parts of the music world ever since.

5 hours ago

tacoma fire...

Frank Sumrall

One person, two dogs dead in Tacoma apartment building fire

Firefighters found one person and two dogs dead inside a Tacoma apartment following a fire there early Wednesday.

7 hours ago

King County tech worker arrested for ‘Office Space’-inspired felony theft