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US programmer outsourced own job to China, spent workdays on Reddit and Facebook

Published time: January 17, 2013 08:23
Edited time: January 17, 2013 12:23

AFP Photo / Francois Guillot

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A programmer at a US company outsourced his job to a Chinese contractor for a fraction of his six-figure salary. After handing over his login information, he spent his days on Facebook and perused cat videos while the Chinese firm worked in his name.

‘Bob,’ as he has been dubbed in the media, had his cover blown when an external audit showed that a Chinese company had been logging in under his name.

The audit revealed an active virtual private network (VPN) between ‘Bob’s’ workstation and a firm in Shenyang, China. Suspecting a breach in their security system, the company’s executives initially requested an audit from Operations Verizon.

"Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going across multiple companies in the area,” Andrew Valentine of Verizon said, adding that “he earned several hundred thousand dollars a year, and only had to pay the Chinese consulting firm about $50,000 annually."

Verizon uncovered hundreds of PDF files and invoices exchanged between the Shenyang contractor and ‘Bob.’ Verizon said that the employee had sent his security credentials by Fedex to the Chinese company so they could log on with his username during working hours.

"Authentication was no problem. He physically FedExed his RSA [security] token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday. It would appear that he was working an average nine-to-five work day,” Valentine said.

Verizon revealed the Shenyang contractor had been working for ‘Bob’ for months, and had access to the classified files of the “critical infrastructure company.” This gives rise to the question: What did Bob actually do during his workday?

A look at the employee’s Internet browsing history revealed he whiled away the hours updating Facebook, surfing Reddit and perusing the Web for cat videos. And at the end of every workday, ‘Bob’ would send a personal email to the management to safeguard his integrity.

Official performance figures for the company where ‘Bob’ worked showed that he was the most productive developer in the building.

‘Bob’ has been described as “inoffensive, quiet” and talented, and is fluent in several different programing languages.

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Unsung hero or couch potato?

The Internet lit up with comments after the story broke, with some praising ‘Bob’s’ ingenuity and resourcefulness.

One blogger opined that he was an “American hero,” worthy of a medal. “Where’s the problem? He improved his personal profit and the quality and efficiency of his work.”

However, Chinese users of Twitter-style social network Weibo were more critical of ‘Bob’s’ work ethic.

“Learn English and let’s find work in US. Why do we have to do the dirty work for such a cheap price in China?" one Weibo commenter wrote.
The real identity of ‘Bob’ has not yet been revealed, but he reportedly no longer works for the infrastructure company.

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