Posted by Raine Hutchens on Mar 1, 2012

Hacker Boasts About Scamming Taco Bell To Win A PSVita; Company Responds

An online hacker has posted some images on a forum boasting his claim that he scammed Taco Bell to win a PlayStation Vita in their “Unlock the Box” contest. In case you don’t know about the contest, let me bring you up to speed. The fast-food restaurant held a contest, which they called “Unlock the Box,” that had players picking up one of their boxed meals. Inside these boxes is a code that can be entered either online or via SMS messaging where winning codes will land contestants with their very own PSVita.

The contest took a turn for the worst when players came streaming in announcing that their codes, which they got brand new from the boxes, were coming up invalid or already used. Just to be clear, employees of the restaurant aren’t eligible to participate, so they were ruled out. Still, players were infuriated and Taco Bell has since been under a lot of fire. So how come the codes were coming up as spent? With this news from the hacker, he may have given us an answer.

This hacker, who calls himself “Sinister,” wrote on a message board claiming he used a self-created program to scam Taco Bell’s contest by generating random codes. With the help of the bot he managed to snag a winning code that won him a Vita for himself. The claim was backed up with images, not only of the system, but the reception letter from the company for his win. The original post has since been edited, but Kotaku managed to snag some images from it before it went dark.

Since it debuted in January, Taco Bell’s contest has been riddled with issues. Tons of contestants have spoken up with the reports mentioned above, and the restaurant could only console them with the information that they were having some “technical issues,” and they suspect that some contestants were trying to “defraud the system.” As of January 26th, Sinister made his bot public to the other members on the ExploitN forum in which he originally posted. This means that handfuls upon handfuls of other users could have been using it to scam the contest furthermore.

This is really a saddening occurrence, and it pains me that someone would go to this length to obtain what they did not rightfully earn. Taco Bell has released an official statement on the hack, claiming:

We have zero tolerance for individuals who attempt to attack or illegally enter the Unlock the Box promotion. Any attempt to deliberately undermine the legitimate operation of this promotion is not only prohibited by the rules, but also may violate criminal and civil laws. We will fully investigate these allegations and will explore all legal remedies.

The company also said that they would be holding a second drawing in March for those winners who have been misled by their invalid or already used codes. No word has been issued on whether any legal action will be taken, but I assume the company will do what is needed to right the wrong. This hacker could face some serious penalties, and in my opinion, should. What pains me even more? The replies on the ExploitN site are claiming that Sinister deserves the Vita that he “rightfully won.” I see a lawsuit in the near future, and there will be some not-so-happy campers under the crosshairs.


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