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Police Arrest Whac-A-Mole Logic Bomber

| 28 Feb 2011 21:20
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Police in Florida have arrested a man for planting a "logic bomb" that shut down hundreds of Whac-A-Mole games around the world, all so he could avoid being hit with a pay cut.

Odds are you've played Whac-A-Mole at some point in your life, or at the very least are familiar with it. Plastic mole heads pop up out of holes in the machine and players must "whac" them down with a big padded club. Wikipedia says it's been around since 1971 and the game remains a fixture at fairs and carnivals to this very day. Occasional breakdowns might seem natural for machines that are pounded on day and night by hyped-up, sugar-wound kids, but "occasional" wasn't enough for computer programmer Marvin Wimberly, who allegedly decided to give entropy a little bit of a helping hand.

Police say that Wimberly was staring down the barrel of a pay cut and so decided to make himself indispensable by installing a logic bomb in Whac-A-Mole games that would cause them to stop working after a certain number of on-and-off cycles. When the games shut down, Wimberly would be called in and paid to fix them, during which he would reinsert the virus with a new countdown.

Amazingly, Wimberly apparently told two people at Bob's Space Racers, the company that makes the game, about what he'd done but it took "months of technical work" before anyone was able to put together the evidence to prove it. Police also say that Wimberly launched a website, bobsupgrades.com, possibly with the intent of milking his scam for even more money.

Hundreds of Whac-A-Mole machines around the world were reportedly affected and repairing them cost Bob's Space Racers at least $100,000; it could cost Wimberly up to 15 years in jail if he's found guilty.

Source: WFTV.com, via Slashdot

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