Chinese students discover loophole for free KFC, and the Colonel is displeased

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In April of 2018, a 23-year-old university student in Shanghai whose last name is Xu found a loophole in KFC’s online ordering system. He discovered that he could pay for food using coupons in a KFC app, then he could get a refund of the very same coupons immediately if he used a different app. In other words, free food! At one of the most popular restaurants in China! But then he flew too close to the fried chicken sun, and things ended very poorly. Vice has the story.

After Xu discovered the KFC loophole, he ordered a lot of free KFC for himself and then started reselling the coupons online. He also shared the secret with four of his schoolmates, who took advantage. The shenanigans continued all the way through October of 2018. Xu himself got about $9,000 worth of free chicken, and his four friends each ordered between $1,400 and $7,300. That’s a lot of chicken.


Eventually, KFC caught on and took the students to court. The court ruled that the five had committed fraud and that they participated in criminal activities by taking advantage of the loopholes in the two apps. And—oh boy—they were all sentenced to prison for 15 to 30 months and had to pay fines ranging from $155 to $930. Yikes.

Some people on the internet have said that the sentences were too harsh, and that KFC’s own online design flaws are to blame, not the students. Loopholes like these aren’t unique to KFC or China. We reported earlier this year about students in Spain who managed to get free Domino’s pizza, but this is on a whole new level. I like KFC and all, but that is a hell of a price to pay for drumsticks.