Whac-A-Mole Maker Gets Whacked By Employee Sabotage

Errors_thumbEmployee sabotage can take many forms. Employees can take documents with them when they leave to work for a competitor, for example. More insidious examples can involve employee destruction of files, causing enormous harm to the employer. Here’s one unfortunate story involving both kinds of sabotage committed by an employee of Bob’s Space Racers, the manufacturer of the classic arcade game, Whac-A-Mole.

Police arrested Marvin Wimberly, Jr., 61, last month, charging him with the unusual crime of  offenses against intellectual property–a felony. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Wimberly programmed a virus into nearly 450 computer modules. The virus caused the game to fail after exactly 511 starts. He is alleged to have begun his criminal mission in August 2008, the same year his employer converted him from a contractor to a full-time employee.

Once the virus hit, the computers were inoperable–unless, that is, Wimberly was sent to perform maintenance. Seven months after the viruses began, Wimberly raised his programming price from $60 to $150 per computer chip. He later told a coworker that he’d programmed another game to fail after 48 or 49 power cycles because he hadn’t been paid.

One of the most disturbing parts of this story is the allegation that Wimberly had planned to sell working modules to his employer’s customers when their games failed–the failure, of course, was a direct result of Wimberly’s programming. He’d even reserved a website, www.BobsUpgrades.com, for his new endeavor. And, all the while, he had been making extra money fixing infected computers. Oh, the web we weave.