Fraud is rarely funny. Having someone steal from you, whatever the context, is always an unnerving and traumatic experience.
However, on rare occasions, fraud can be so bizarre and seem so outlandish that one can’t help but feel a certain sense of curiosity - even admiration - towards whoever felt it necessary to break the law in such a weird way.
Last week, Nova Scotian and unfortunate McDonald’s aficionado Lauren Taylor found herself in exactly this situation. The previously proud user of the franchise’s official app, Taylor had her faith in the system shaken when she discovered that someone had successfully hacked into her account and used it to fund a five day fast food binge, leaving her with a bill for almost $500-worth of burgers, chips and nuggets that she had never actually ordered.
According to reporting from CBC News, the as yet unidentified offender enjoyed meals including, “large fries, Big Macs, poutine, junior chicken meals, Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, McDouble burgers, bacon and hashbrown McWraps, Egg McMuffins and hot cakes.” Purchases were recorded across five locations in Montreal - a city that Taylor asserts she has never visited.
After discovering the fraud, Taylor immediately filed a report with her local Halifax police department. Speaking to CBC, she made clear just how angry she was with McDonald’s. “This is an app that's supposed to be secure," she said. "So why do I live in Nova Scotia and why is my card being used in Quebec? That's crazy.” She went on to add that, “It's amazing to see how quick someone can just breach your privacy. Rent is three days away and now I have to find the money. It's a good thing that I live with family. Otherwise I'd be out.”
Though the size and scale of Lauren Taylor’s fraud might seem surprising, this is not the first time that Canadian McDonald’s users have experienced this sort of problem. Almost immediately after Taylor’s case became public knowledge, a second woman in Ontario claimed that her app had been used to order over $100 of food without her consent. Way back in October, a Reddit user began a thread detailing how their account had been used to fund two purchases in which they themselves had played no part. Clearly, Hamburglars are more of a problem than anyone appreciated.
Unsurprisingly, McDonald’s have quickly attempted to alleviate any concerns. A spokesperson stated that the company “take appropriate measures to keep personal information secure, including on our app. Just like any other online activity, we recommend that our guests use our app diligently by not sharing their passwords with others, creating unique passwords and changing passwords frequently."
Fortunately for Lauren Taylor, she has since been able to claim a refund and move on with her life. But, despite the happy ending, questions remain over whether the McDonald’s app is as safe as we all thought. When your favourite comfort food can potentially cost you $500, meals suddenly look a lot less relaxing.