These Everyday Geniuses Tried To Cheat The System—And Got Away With It

Huge conglomerate companies, institutes of higher learning, and even the restaurants down the strip all have one thing in common—they have systems in place. And, where there’s a system, there’s a way to cheat it. These Redditors go above and beyond the call of duty in search of that rare and lawful way to get what they want without barely lifting a finger. They break codes, tell fibs, take advantage of typos, and still somehow manage to sleep well at night. Read on for some juicy secrets, exposed:

1. Works Well In Groups

I pulled a lot of loophole stuff in high school, which explains why I was an English major in college. You see, I was very observant when it came to word choice, and I’d do anything I could to make things easier for me because of it. So, when my Environmental Science teacher assigned us a project to document all of the environmental safety acts from 1980 to the present, I was eager to find a loophole.

Documenting the acts included stating when they were enacted, what they protected, and what the penalty was for breaking those rules. At that point, there were 22 total acts, and I didn’t want to do this whole project on my own. That’s when I noticed that on the assignment sheet, it was stated that we could do the project in a group. I suddenly had a eureka moment.

So, I created a group of 22 people—spanning three periods of the class—and I assigned each person one act. Each of the 22 students filled the info into a template that I gave them, then emailed it back to me. I compiled all of the information, created a title page with 22 names on it, and emailed the completed project back out to everyone.

The look on my teacher’s face the day we turned it in was priceless. He pulled me aside later and told me the staff got a good chuckle out of what we did. By the way: we all got an A.


2. I Think, Therefore iPhone

I had been wanting an iPhone for some time, but the only local carrier available to me was not good—not even just price-wise—but with signals and coverage too. Anyway, out of nowhere, a new challenger carrier appeared and you could purchase from their website. Unfortunately, I dithered around too long, and they sold out a couple of hours after launch.

Being a stubborn nerd, I didn’t want to take no for an answer. Now, the following will seem weird to people, but I make websites for a living. I have developer tools installed and love to check out how other sites do things, so I opened up a browser inspector. Lo and behold, the online store did not remove the “Add to Cart” button from the page, but simply hid it with CSS.

I “unhid” it and started the checkout process, assuming it would do an inventory check and shut me down. Nope. I made it through the checkout process for my shiny new iPhone! A couple of days later, I got a call from the carrier, and I freaked out thinking they were calling to bust me. Turns out, they just called to verify addresses for new customers: all was well.

I’m still a loyal customer five years later, and I’m so sorry to the poor chap who didn’t get his iPhone because of a lousy online store that let me order it instead.


3. Parking Lot Hero

I went to CSU Monterey Bay where the parking enforcement was brutal. They had over-enrolled, and there was pretty much nowhere to park out in the off-campus housing. You received two parking permits per unit, but only one car could fit in the driveway. However, there could be as many as five people living in one unit. If all five people had cars, they’d have to drop $120 to get another pass.

The penalty was a $45 ticket if parking enforcement ever found the rules being broken. We were all incredibly broke, so this was obviously a terrible situation. Now, they did have a guest pass system that any student could use 10 times during a semester, but only if you had visitors. So, for the visitor permit, one would click the link on your online profile, and he or she would get a parking permit generated for that day at that time with a special QR code stamped on it.

Upon closer inspection of the script they used to generate these things, we realized that the QR code was simply the date and time of printing hashed into the bar code. No other data. So, I came up with a genius plan—I downloaded the raw HTML of the page that was generated, wrote a quick PHP script to randomize the time, looped through the next 50 days, and printed out passes for all of my friends’ cars.

I decided not to sell the permits to people who needed them. Instead, I generated a standalone PHP program to generate permitted up to 10 at a time that they could print themselves. All they’d have to do is fill in their cars’ info, generate 10 printable pages, print ’em, and stash ’em in their cars. I was a hero.


4. Insta-Cheater

I used to really love drinking soda when I was a teenager. Back in the mid-’90s, there was a 20-ounce cola that had instant winners for another free cola under the cap. If you had a winner, all you had to do was give the cap to the cashier and grab another. I don’t remember if it was Coke or Pepsi, but I remember it was a yellow cap for this promotion.

Anyway, I figured out a way to win every single time—all you had to do was hold the bottle at the correct angle, and you could see in the reflection of the liquid the text on the underside of the cap. You could mostly see if it was a winner or “Sorry, try again.” We used to get a bunch of free colas that way when I was a kid, all you had to do was buy one to get it started.


5. Chop House Gets The Chop

Last month, Chop House—the Southeast Asian Kitchen owned by Chipotle—sent out coupons to the residents of my neighborhood. One of the two coupons was “One Free Rice, Noodle, or Salad Bowl” and it had no restrictions. I live in an apartment, and some of my neighbors threw the coupons into the junk mail recycling bin. Little did they know that was a big mistake.

For the days following the delivery of these coupons, I searched all the bins for thrown-away coupons. I ended up with enough coupons to last me the whole month. With all the add-ins (4x meat, 2x or 3x veggie, 2x curry), my average bowl is valued at $16. Multiplied by 30 coupons, the grand total was $480 for free food.


6. Waterpark Hustler

When I was 11 years old, I was at a waterpark with my family. I really wanted to go to Burger King that day, and my dad had said repeatedly, “No way,” as he didn’t have the money for that. The waterpark had this system where guests could buy bracelets for $4, which they could then exchange for a tube to ride around on stuff.

Afterward, they would have to return the bracelet and get a dollar back. It was around the middle of the day, so there were people both coming and going, and there was a really long line at the bracelet stand. At that point, I knew it was my chance to work my magic. I sold my bracelet to some guy at the back of the line for $3. He didn’t have to wait, and I gave him a dollar off, so all good.

Then, I took that $3 and bought back three bracelets from people waiting to return them. I gave them the same price they’d get at the booth, but they didn’t have to wait. I took those three bracelets and sold them to other people at the back of the line for $3. I rinsed and repeated a bunch of times, spending about half an hour hustling.

I went back to my dad with $40 bucks and gave it to him, explaining how I got it. Asked if we could go to Burger King now. He was like yeah, you win. Whoppers were on me that day.


7. Easy Profit

About 25 years ago, I made an $800 purchase on a credit card. The clerk charged the card twice by accident. The credit card company called me to inquire about it, and I told them it was a duplicate. About 10 minutes later, another rep from the credit card company called, so I explained again that it was a duplicate entry. When I looked at my balance a few minutes later, I was shocked.

Apparently, both reps deleted the charge. So, I sat with an $800 balance for a few months until I closed the card and they sent me a check. Was it lawful? I guess not in the end, but I’m still sleeping pretty well.


8. Guaranteed Savings

I bought my first HDTV in 2003 at a large box store. The guy tried to sell me the warranty, but I refused, citing I didn’t have enough for both the TV ($2200) and the warranty ($450). The sales guy was a jerk and said that without the warranty, I would need to pay to ship the TV in case it broke. The TV only had 90 days of parts and one year of labor. It was a very high-pressure sale.

So, the sales guy took the price of the TV down to $1700 so I would buy the warranty. When I brought the TV home, I read the manual and warranty. My eyes immediately widened when I read the fine print: it was two years parts and labor and they would come to my house if the TV was over 20″. Meaning, I actually paid $450 for 2 extra years of warranty, which is way past the burn-in period.

So, a day after the TV was delivered, I went back to the store and told them I didn’t want the warranty, and they gave me the $450 back. I basically got the TV for almost $500 less than the actual price.


9. One Man’s Trash…

I work in an office next to a Walmart, so I walk there almost daily to eat lunch. Without fail, I’ll usually find discarded receipts on the ground from customers who litter or leave them in carts. Not only am I saving the environment, but here’s the best part—I use Walmart’s “Savings Catcher” app and scan the barcodes in. The app price matches the items then refunds me the difference if it was cheaper at a competitor.

The funds can be redeemed at I made enough in a year to buy my kids a trampoline.


10. Finding The Pattern

In elementary school, we had to take a standardized test that was a week long. We’d get one booklet each, say 50 pages, and we were told to do pages 1 to 10. At the end of the day, we’d hand the booklet in. The next day, we’d get the same booklet back, do pages 11-20, and hand it in again. Then, we’d get it back on the third day, and do pages 21-30. This went on for a week, but I already knew how to outsmart the system from the very first day.

Well, obviously I just looked ahead to the next day’s pages and looked up stuff I didn’t understand. It’s like they were begging you to cheat.


11. Miss Independent

When I was fifteen, I convinced my high school that I was emancipated from my parents. But here’s the catch, and it’s a big one—I had no supporting paperwork. This is how I did it: I got to know the secretary and asked once what I needed on their end because I was getting emancipated. Then, I would check in every week or so, say hi, and just try and be nice.

After about three months, I walked in very excited and explained how I was getting my own place and had a job. She filed my paperwork immediately, and from that point on, I controlled my supervision in high school. I wrote my own notes, had my own phone number as the contact info, and could sign off on anything that required a parent’s signature.

I went through the rest of school like this, and my family never found out. And yes, I graduated.


12. Single Mom Magic

When my son was just a little boy, I was a single mother without child support. His dad was on the certificate, but he just didn’t pay. Also, I should mention that my son had been born with a tied tongue, and he still had some residual speech issues. At the time, we were living in a very bad area with an underfunded school system.

When I went down to look at the school, I was told that because my son had speech issues, he would be placed in a special ed program. All disabled students were placed in the same program: for speech difficulties, Down Syndrome, motor difficulties, and intellectual disability. The place looked, sounded, and seemed to be run as a harsh, overstrained institution.

At that time, my mother lived 20 miles away in the same area where I had grown up—a village of 600 people. It has one of the best school systems in the state, due in part to a wealthy tax base, and also in part to its excellent sports program. Its graduates went on to college at a 90% rate. At the school in my district, it was less than 60%.

After speaking with my mother, we came up with a genius solution. I went to the post office, opened a box under my name, and tied it to her address. I called the phone company and had the bill set up in my name, sending all mail to the PO Box. When I renewed my driver’s license, that was the address I gave. I did this with a few other incidental things.

When school started, I registered my son using my mother’s address. Every morning at 4:30 am, I would get him up and drive him over there to the local daycare to go on to school, so I could come back into town to be at work by six. Then, I’d pick him up after school, and take him home again. We went on this way for almost two years.

He received normal speech therapy and showed enormous improvement within a year. Before long, he qualified for the gifted program. Eventually, a bus driver apparently noticed my long-distance commute and tattled to the school. I was called into the office, where I produced all the bills and paperwork that I had expected I might have to.

I think the principal knew I was lying, but he silently took the paperwork, Xeroxed it, and gave it back to me. I hate to lie, and, more than anything, I hate to lie like that right in someone’s face who hasn’t done me any harm. But I had absolutely no choice—I didn’t budge. The paperwork satisfied the powers that be, and within two years, I’d found an apartment in the better district and moved in. My son will graduate next year.


13.  A Ticket To Ride

I was excited about going on a bus trip a few years ago, but when I got to the bus station, I found out something awful: I’d accidentally booked my trip for the wrong day. I didn’t realize it until I was already in line, waiting for my bus—a 12-hour ride that crossed an international border. The driver told me that the bus ticket I’d bought was scheduled to leave the next day and that I couldn’t get on his.

I was upset, since I had already taken a two-hour bus ride to get to this bus station, and it was about 1 am. The driver felt bad, and since there was one extra seat on the bus, he let me take it. The next day, after I’d arrived, I got an email saying that, due to bad road conditions, my bus was canceled. I had the choice to either reschedule or get a refund.

I would have done nothing, but it even said that if passengers didn’t reschedule within 72 hours or so, they would just issue a refund. Boom. Free trip.


14. Shredded To Freedom

I got a speeding ticket when I was 17 and was sentenced to ‘teen court’. The penalties were various community service jobs that I could choose from. I was sentenced to 90 hours of community service. One of the jobs was at city hall scanning paper documents, and then shredding them—this was in 1997 by the way.

During my time doing this, I was only working on documents that were not sensitive—like various old budgets and stuff. The sensitive documents were just on another shelf in the same room. Suddenly, a brilliant idea popped up in my head—after about an hour of searching through them, I found my speeding ticket record, put it in the trusty shredder, and left. I never heard anything else about it.


15. Book ‘Em Danno

So, I was in university and I was totally broke, but I needed to buy these super expensive textbooks. Here’s how I beat the system. First, I’d find the book at the library and check them out. Of course, they wanted the books back after two weeks, but I needed them for the whole semester. So I just kept it for the whole semester, racking up a ton of late fees.

When I was done with the books, I came back to the library and placed them back on the shelf—exactly where they went. When they notified me that I had huge fees, I said, “That’s weird, I turned in those books a long time ago.” I then ask them if they wouldn’t mind having someone search for the books. Once the books were found, the fees were dropped. Voila!


16. Evil Genius

My dad is starting up a business. He does all the research and development while a team builds the website. It turns out our government has a grant system, so startup companies can get money back for doing research and development. The only problem was that an employee has to be doing the research and development to get the grant—not the owner.

So my dad, being the evil genius that he is, did something mind-blowing—he made himself an employee, paying himself a salary of $2000 a month, and also making a sizable donation of $2000 to the company every month. He is now being paid by the government to work for himself.


17. Three For Me

One day, around the time when I’d just enrolled in university, I sat down and read my graduation requirements. I went through all the classes that could be a part of across different fields. My university allowed for some classes to count twice—if used for different degrees—so I chose my courses very carefully with this in mind.

By the time I left school, I’d graduated in four years, with over 180 credit hours and, get a load of this: three degrees. This was all for the same price as people who were taking the minimum amount of classes. I was informed by my old academic advisor that the university changed its rules after my graduation because of me.


18. Spyware Gets Slammed

At my first job, some colleagues and I played a whole lot of Unreal Tournament during office hours. This was in spite of the fact that the system administrator had installed a piece of spyware on each PC (“ZenWorks”). The spyware reported on what applications were open, how much time each application window was in the foreground, and those kinds of things.

So, my colleagues and I came up with a devious plan—we tricked the spyware by using a hex editor to modify some strings in the Unreal Tournament executable. In plain English: we basically made it look like other programs—PowerPoint, visual studio, or whatever we were supposed to be using the most at work—looked like they were being used. We used to play at least four to five hours a week.


19. High School Jocks vs. Modern Art

So, in my senior year of high school, my best friend and I were looking over the possible classes we needed to take. They assigned us the core classes, but we needed to pick two extra electives. Being seniors, we’d already taken the low work electives and were faced with either boring options or difficult options (at least, according to other students who had already taken them).

However, in high school, we were allowed to take a personal studies class instead of an actual class. We would have to come up with our own curriculum and a final project, which was great. There was only one problem: we’d have to get a teacher to be our advisor, and not many teachers were willing to do extra work just because a student didn’t want to take the offered courses.

For some reason, our art teacher had taken a liking to us. So, we came up with the idea that we wanted to take an independent personal study in abstract art. Let me just say now, we are not in any way, shape, or form the epitome of art students. We were absolutely terrible at art. So the teacher agreed and we were pretty excited.

Eventually, the next semester rolled around. Since the course was an independent study, there wasn’t a specific hour we had for that class. So, we took our independent study with the art teacher during the time slot when she had another class, which happened to be AP Art (Advanced Placement Art).

Such is a course for students who plan on going to college for some form of art. AP classes are also counted as college credits. So, while the teacher was scrutinizing the students on poor shading in a pencil drawing that looked flawless to my inept eye, my friend and I were filling up water balloons with paint and throwing them at a canvas.

We glued random things together, mutilated mannequin heads, and pretty much acted like children with paint. She would compliment us on our great ideas and wonderful uses of color and shapes; all the while she was critiquing the AP students on what I would call awesome work. The pièce de résistance? Our water balloon paint monstrosity. It was hailed as amazing, while their picture-perfect drawings were always short of the mark.

I always thought she kind of felt bad for us, and that’s why she was being so nice. I also thought she was being so hard on the other students, because they were in the AP class, and we were just two dumb jocks throwing paint around. Towards the end of the semester, the teacher pulled us aside and said that she was going to include us in the AP class…and also grade us along with them: including the college credit.

She said that our creative process had been unparalleled in recent years.


20. Transit Trickery

About 10 years ago, my friend and I spent a year never paying for a bus. This was in London and the Oyster cards were pretty new. They were contactless cards that you could put money on to pay for the London tube and bus—which were both super expensive. Every time you used the card, it would make a very unique beep tone, and that’s how the driver knew you’d paid.

So, my buddy and I came up with an easy loophole—we got the same unique beep sound and recorded it on our phones. When we tapped our Oyster card—which had no money on it—we would play the beep on our phones. Of course, the drivers were too lazy to check on us.


21. Time Is Of The Essence

At the place where I work, we have a clocking in/out system which pays you an extra 15 minutes wage if you stay for up to seven minutes past your shift time. For example, if your shift ends at 8 pm and you stay clocked in until 8:07 pm, you get paid an extra 15 minutes. It’s actually a pretty good deal—but even better if you cheat it, as I did.

So now, I make sure to turn up to work at least seven minutes early to clock in and make sure I use the toilet or something at the end of my shift, so I clock out a little later. I typically get paid an extra 30 minutes for pretty much no time at all. I’ve been doing this for about a year, and it’s earned me an extra $700 to 800 on my yearly wage.

I feel like a real sneak, but, seriously, I do actually work my butt off for the company and they don’t pay overtime. I just classify this as my overtime pay that I happen to arrange for myself.


22. Show Me Your Teeth

This is not something I do anymore—I’m a grown-up after all—but something I used to do. I worked at a takeaway restaurant, and one of the few perks for the employees was that if you worked an opening or closing shift, you received a free lunch and drink from the menu. Because of my schedule, I used to get quite a few of these shifts.

At the time, there was also a promotion going on with Coca-Cola. Basically, whenever you bought a bottle, you could use the code on the label to earn points on the Coca-Cola website. You can probably see where this is going now. Basically, I was able to drink several bottles of Coke each week, input the codes, and then earn a ton of points, all without paying a cent.

Over the course of just a few months, I received enough points for a PS3 game and an Itunes card. Unfortunately, there was an incident, and suddenly employees weren’t allowed free lunches anymore. But it was a nice bonus while it lasted. Good for my wallet, not so good for my teeth.


23. Laundromat Laundering

The laundromat near me uses smartcards for payments. I’ve looked at the washing machines and dryers, and they do not appear to be networked in any way, meaning that the balance must be stored on the card itself. So, if I load $20 on the card, I could probably just back it up, then rewrite it every time I go to do laundry.

But my other idea is even more foolproof—I could just find the hex field that contains the balance and change the value. I have a smartcard writer, somewhere, from years ago—many a time I have tried to find it to hack free laundry, but never found it. Probably better off.


24. The Fifth-Grader Strikes Back

In elementary school, all fifth graders had to take a “pacer test” in gym class. This consisted of running up and down the basketball court in a set amount of time per lap, and that time shortening every few laps. Everyone was allowed one strike before they got out, and most people would run and almost make it to the next line, but the beep would go off and they would use their strike and run back.

What I ended up doing was rather clever, I’d say—I decided it would be a better use of the strike to take one step, catch my breath, and when the beep went off, take one step back, catch my breath, then run on the next beep. This allowed me to have a 15-second break while everyone else ran. It cost me the strike, but it was much more useful as a resting tool than a failsafe tool.


25. Finessing McDonald’s

When I was a kid, I went to McDonald’s with some buddies and asked for a cup of water. The register guy gave me a “Monopoly game” cup—the one with the game pieces. Realizing my luck, I instantly asked him for four more for my buds as we were all sweaty from skateboarding. He gave them to me with no questions asked. When I peeled off the stickers, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I won a small fry and two cheeseburgers. Small win but still a win!


26. Email Glitch

In college—when online tests were just starting to be a thing—I had a class that opted for online examinations. You’d go to the website, click “Week 1 Quiz,” fill out all the answers, then put your email address and the prof’s email address in. The system would then email the results to the teacher and to you—explaining all your wrong answers.

I accidentally figured out a little glitch that helped me tremendously—if you forgot to put in the prof’s address, it would fail out on the submit, but still email you the explanation of the grade. Then, you could correct the answers. I would do it this way, then put in his email and submit the quiz for full credit.


27. He Skipped A Step

My best friend hated high school and all the people there, so he started taking community college classes in order to graduate early. At some point, he somehow realized that he could transfer all his classes from high school to his community college program. Because he did this, he was suddenly a fully enrolled college student.

Here’s the sneaky part: his credits meant he could transfer to another college. So he transferred to a much better college in Chicago. He is about to graduate with a college degree, but he literally has no high school diploma.


28. Beach Daze

A few years ago, I was interning while getting my master’s degree. For my thesis project, I had decided I wanted to do something practical that applied to my internship and might be useful beyond academia. This was also nice because I would get paid to work on it—it was a paid internship. Anyway, I suppose just getting paid to do my school work was already a pretty good cheat of the system.

My coup de grace, however, was convincing my boss to let me work remotely. This not only allowed me to work from home, but I also took it to my parent’s house on the beach for two months. So effectively, I got paid to do my homework on a beach. Pretty nice set-up.


29. No Caltech For This Techie

I took advantage of desperate companies in lieu of going to college. This online service in the ’90s hired me on the spot as tech support due to my being able to tell a mouse from a keyboard. I made similar jumps to other companies needing help, and not checking credentials as close. I’ve been a software developer for the last 12 years, earning enough to support my family of five, without ever having attended a day of college.


30. A Third Floor Window Of Opportunity

My college gave students an expensive mobile workstation their freshman year, and along with it came a warranty that covered accidental damage. If a student broke it, the IT center would replace it with a refurbished computer of the same model. In my senior year, someone figured out that if you try to get it replaced directly through HP, they didn’t have the old computers anymore.

To our surprise, they would send you their latest model instead. So, I did what any student in my situation naturally would—I ended up throwing my four-year-old laptop from the third-story window and sent its shattered remains to HP. I had to make sure it was beyond repair, so I cracked the motherboard for good measure. What I got back was their latest and greatest mobile workstation.


31. Ask Me No More Questions

In high school, my Spanish teacher had a stack of 30 notecards with each student’s name written on them. She would pick from those cards almost every day to choose who would answer the next question. In the first week of school, I saw a wide-open window of opportunity—I noticed the cards on her desk, saw mine on top quickly took it, and threw it away. I never got called on the whole year.


32. A Tale Of Two TVs

One day, my TV broke. Luckily, I’d purchased a kind of insurance called “replacement coverage,” which covered repairs or replacement; whichever was cheaper for the company. I sent the TV away to be fixed and a week later, it showed up at my door working perfectly. Great, I thought to myself—this is why you buy insurance.

But then I noticed that a letter had arrived from the store as well, and I hadn’t bothered to open it yet. When I opened it, I was caught off-guard. It stated that my TV couldn’t be fixed and that I should come and get a brand new one on them. I looked at my perfectly functioning TV and thought, “What should I do?” I ended up going to the store with the letter and my ID to receive a replacement TV.

Now I had two! Winner winner! What’s more, the value of the replacement didn’t quite match the valuation, so they gave me a £40 voucher on top.


33. Amazon Gets Snowed

Last year I bought a new snowboard on Amazon that was on sale for $250 down from $500. Well, they sent me the wrong board, but the board they sent me was worth around $600. I called them up to complain, and they sent me the original board that I’d purchased. Then, they threatened to charge me another $250 if I didn’t return the wrong board.

This is pretty easy math. So, I never returned the wrong board, and I ended up with two boards worth a total of $1100, and I only paid $500. Score.


34. Juiced On Juice

This one time on vacation, three of us went to lunch and bought mimosas. They gave us a bottle of champagne and a jar of orange juice. We each had a mimosa, but we still had half a bottle of champagne and no more orange juice. The waitress then came around and filled up our orange juice jar. We all had a nice glass of orange juice from the orange juice jar.

Then the waitress came back and refilled the orange juice jar again! And then it hit us—unlimited orange juice! We drank orange juice like kings for the rest of that lunch! Before that day, I’ve never had enough orange juice at a restaurant, but I will tell you this my friends, life is different after you’ve had enough orange juice at a restaurant.

Food tastes better. The air seems fresher. You’ll have more energy, and self-confidence than you ever dreamed of.


35. “Tabbed” In The Back

When I was in high school, I had a part-time job working in data entry. I’d basically transcribe customer information from a handwritten card into a database, tabbing through the fields to enter each separate bit of info. It would be things like first names, last names, dates of birth, addresses, and phone numbers. The job paid based on how fast you could type.

My friends and I figured out a shortcut fairly early, and it was a good one—their program counted keystrokes, and it made no distinction between keys. So, instead of tabbing over to the next field, my friends and I would just hold down the space bar. With this method, we exponentially increased our keystrokes, and also exponentially increased our paychecks.


36. Grade Got “Macroed”

This is the story of how I went from a lousy 2.0 GPA to a 3.2 my senior year…with only maybe an hour of work…for the whole year. Right before my senior year, due to some stupid band drama, I was wrongfully accused of something. Even though I cleared my name of the supposed incident, I was removed for a technical violation of a different rule.

So, to finish my diploma, I went to a nearby alternative high school that had online classes. Enter semester one: I was never a great student, but I could hold my own on a C to a B average. I did my best for this semester. I did all the tests and assignments on the class website and did okay in all of them—except macroeconomics.

In macroeconomics, I managed to only do three tests for the whole semester, and even though I got As on all three, it was only three tests. I procrastinated and held off for as long as I could, but did not get any more done. I was extremely worried about the big F I was going to get, until report card day. I was shocked at my results—It turned out, I’d aced the class. I didn’t understand until I viewed the grading breakdown.

The way a normal school grade-out works is points gained vs. points in the curriculum. This means that if a class has 1000 points, and you earn 500, that’s 50% earned. However, this online program used points earned vs POINTS ATTEMPTED! This meant—even if the class had 1000 points—if I took 100 points worth of tests and earned 100 points, I would gain 100/100 points, and get an A+.

Enter semester two. I tried this newfound power out by taking one test in every class and then waiting for midterms—apprehensively mind you. I got 100% in all my classes. Then, in my last semester of high school, I sneakily negotiated an “all As” reward with my parents for a new computer that I would build myself.

I did one test in each class on day one. I then spent the rest of the few months doing fantasy computer builds on Newegg. At the end of the year, I’d graduated with a 4.0 GPA for the year, which brought my overall score from a terrible 2.2 to an awesome 3.3 or so. Still not really sure what macroeconomics is though. Ha!


37. Craigslist Carnage

Here’s something I do to lower the prices on things I want to buy on Craigslist. So, when I see something on Craigslist that I really want, but I think is overpriced, I make a fake throwaway email account, then use it to make low-ball offers. This makes the seller feel kind of nervous about the price he or she set.

For instance, let’s say a couch is listed at $1000, but I don’t want to pay more than $700 for it. I’ll make several offers from different accounts for around $400 to $600. All the while, I’m hoping to create the illusion that the value of the item is lower than it actually is to the seller. Then, when I come in eventually at $700, it looks like it may just be the best offer, and I can generally get it accepted.


38. Student Cons Piggy Prof

In my freshman year at university, I was taking an “Intro to Engineering” class that met once a week for two hours. It was super boring and super easy. We had three assignments all semester—and only two tests. I skipped that class one week, and I came in the next week to the teacher handing back one of our only two tests for the semester. Yikes!

It was worth nearly half my grade, so I was freaking out internally and thinking that I was going to fail. After handing back all the tests, he asked if anyone didn’t get theirs back. I raised my hand along with two other people. He called us up to the front of the class to look at two tests that were turned in with no names written in. Of course, the two other guys claimed those, and I was left with nothing.

The professor told me to drop by his office right after class so we could discuss my test. That felt like the nail in my coffin so to speak, so I sat back down and waited. I went to his office after class and when I looked inside, a lightbulb went off in my head—it was a total mess. There were papers everywhere, folders on the floor. It looked like a small tornado had blown through.

He told me he might have misplaced my exam, so we both looked through all the papers and came up with nothing. Of course, I knew it wasn’t there, but I felt like it would be better to just play along: I was in too deep at this point. He pulled up the grades for the test on his computer and asked me how I thought I did.

I told him it was a fairly easy exam, and that I thought I did pretty well. I offered to take the test again if he had time, but instead, he turned to me and asked, “Well, I wouldn’t have time this week to give you the test again. Would you be okay with it if I just gave you the class average on the exam?” I said yes, and got a 93% on an exam I never took.


39. Call Now To Win

When I was like 11 years old, our local TV station would run contests weekly in which the first caller would win a prize. After having tried to win previous weeks, I knew that the number to call to win was always busy. The contest fell on one day of the week, during a 30-minute segment of some show. During the segment, “Call now to win!” would just randomly pop up on the screen.

Knowing this, and knowing that the first caller would win, I just sat there from the beginning of the segment hitting redial on the phone until It finally happened: it rang at almost the exact same time as the “Call now!” notification came across the TV. I had won! I was ecstatic that I had won something, but what was it? A lousy gift certificate for a haircut. I didn’t try to win that contest again.


40. I Will Ruin This For You

Back in the day, I used to wait tables for a restaurant group in NYC called BR Guest. They have lots of mid-grade restaurants throughout the city, and they are pure evil. Great places to dine, terrible places to work. I can almost guarantee that anyone reading this who has worked for this soul-sucking company instantly shuddered like I had said “Voldemort” out loud.

Anyway, they used to do this thing where they would give you an employee card and you could earn “BRGuest Bucks” on it. If you did something exceptionally well, or above and beyond, and it got back to the right person, they would throw $10 on your card. Eventually, you could use it to go out to dinner at one of their other restaurants.

Kind of cheesy, but whatever—it meant free food for me. Now, this company didn’t do any advertising. Instead, they had these things called VGCs, or Valued Guest Cards. As a waiter, you were expected to try and get your guests to fill these out with their name, email address, and phone number, as well as describing their dining experience.

You were expected to get VGCs from 20% of your guests every night. They had all sorts of wacky percentages that you had to hit, which you then had to go over with the manager like you were a banker. If you didn’t hit your numbers, you had to justify it. Justify it? I think I need to remind you this is just a serving job.

So, one day at our daily 45-minute long pre-shift meeting, we got introduced to our new GM. At the end of the meeting, he told us, somewhat off the cuff, “Oh and by the way, if anyone ever gets 80% or more on their VGCs, I will give them $100 BRGuest bucks!” Everyone else sort of brushed this off…but not me.

I walked up to the new GM, whom I had just met, and said, “Hey, that whole 80% VGC thing. I just want to let you know that I am going to ruin this for you.” The GM foolishly chuckled and said, “I hope you do.” I looked him dead in the eye and said, “No, you don’t understand. I am seriously going to ruin this for you,” and then walked away without another word.

That night, I turned in a 100% VGC count with my sign-out paperwork. The manager was flabbergasted. “This is amazing. How did you do that” he asked. “I’m a great salesman,” was my only reply. The truth is that I told every table that I had a bet with my manager, and if I got all my tables to fill these out, he would give me $100. So everyone filled them out.

So, this went on for about three or four nights, before another manager figured out what I was doing, and told me that I could not tell my tables that. I argued that how I got the VGCs shouldn’t matter, as I was not lying to the guests, and since the end results were the same, who cares?  Unfortunately, the guy held firm.

The following week, the company started a monthly raffle for anyone who filled out VGCs. Anyone that filled them out got entered into a raffle for a $500 gift card to any of their restaurants. You can tell they really loved these stupid VGCs. But suddenly, I was now back in the business of ruining this program for the general manager.

Now, when I said I could sell anything to anyone, that was actually true. Having previously worked an all-commission, high-pressure sales job, I was very skilled at getting people to sign up for whatever I wanted. If you sat at my table, the end of your meal was all about that raffle, and getting you to fill out that card.

I am not going to say that I hit 80% every night, but for the next few weeks, if I didn’t, I was pretty close. After the first few hundred dollars, the manager told me that he could technically only add $50 a week to my card, so he was going to have to catch up incrementally. I told him that it was fine, and to just keep track of it, not wanting to kill my golden goose.

Then, things started to get serious. Apparently, in their company-wide manager meetings, my name came up. They wanted to know how I was doing this. “I’m just so good at my job” was all I would tell them. At this point, it is important to note that I was never dishonest. This was a game to me, and I had no interest in cheating. So, I never filled out cards with fake info. Everything I turned in was legit.

What I will cop to is that sometimes I had over 100% on my VGCs. That is because I was so good at selling the guests on this raffle, that they would also fill out their spouses or kid’s name to up their chances of winning. On those occasions, I would bank those cards for a later date. The way I saw it, they were getting the legitimate marketing info they wanted, but I just wasn’t going to let them get any of it for free.

After a few more weeks of this, I had $800 already on my card and the manager still owed me another $700. It was then that he came to me, head hung in defeat. He said: “I…I can’t do this anymore. I am getting flak from the district manager for this. I am going to have to stop with the $100/VGC trade. I will still get you the money on the card you are owed, but it is going to take some time.”

He was broken. As I’d told him I would, I’d ruined this for him. Now, as I am a forgiving soul, and confident in my utter dominance, I gave him an out. “OK, here is what we are going to do,” I said. “I have some family coming into town next week. We are all going to come in here for dinner to eat and drink like kings. At the end of the meal, you make my bill go away, and we will call the remainder of my balance square.”

He jumped at the chance, as this was a relatively nice restaurant, and comping a few hundred dollars worth of food and drinks every night was not that out of the ordinary. So, the next week, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law came into town. They, along with my wife and I, and my dad, all went out to dinner for steaks and lobsters, and booze and champagne, and every dessert on the menu.

My wife got to look awesome in front of her mother, my manager got to get this off his mind, and I got to bask in the glory of my victory. I’d kept my word and I did indeed “ruin this for him.”


41. Gambler Beat The Odds

I gamble exclusively at MGM casinos in Las Vegas. They have a players club card—called MLife—that rates your play, and that’s how you get comps for free stuff. When you change cash into chips, the pit boss runs your card and gives your account points for how much cash you sat down with—and some residual credits for playtime.

I routinely changed over $1000 into chips, only played with maybe $50 worth, took the rest to the cashier, and got cashback. Assuming I lost my $50—sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t—I’d get $950 back in cash. Then, I’d go to a different pit and change out again. That part of my scheme is key—at that point, the casino thinks I’m some fat cat who just lost $1k and is back to donate more, yet I’m sitting on points for $1950 worth of play.

I rinsed and repeated as I walked down The Strip at their half-dozen properties. I’d earned so many points, I actually skipped an entire membership tier and gained Gold status…and I was on the verge of making Platinum. This had earned me a host at the Bellagio who I now contact directly to get a free room whenever I visit one of their fine hotels.

Over the two years, I’ve done this, I’ve probably actually lost only $1k gambling, but the books show I’ve lost over $100,000 of cash flow with my name on it. If the film 21 bears any truth, I might get beaten up in their basement someday, but it would be worth it.


42. No Taxes In Texas

I was going to college in Texas, but I was living in another state. Because of this, I was paying out-of-state tuition—which was a lot more. I looked up all the ways I could get in-state tuition, and there were four different ways: marry a Texan, own property in Texas for one year, hold a job in Texas for one year, or own a business in Texas for one year.

So naturally, I went with the easiest option—I started a “business.” I registered my “business” with the state and filed taxes every quarter—I had zero expenses and zero income every quarter, so I paid nothing in taxes. One year later, I got on that in-state tuition. It cost me around $200 to register my business, and it saved me tens of thousands of dollars.


43. Paid To Ride The Bus

I visit my parents about once a month, and the bus to get to their town costs about $25 each way. Luckily, halfway between my place and my parent’s place, there’s a casino. Now, that casino has a free shuttle to bring people to gamble. Instead of charging you for the shuttle, they actually give you poker chips as a gift. And of course, you can just exchange the chips for cash.

So what I do is take the casino bus from my place to the casino. There, I trade in my poker chips for cash and get on another casino bus that takes me to my parents’ town. I end up making a $7 profit instead of paying $25. And of course, it works the same going back home.


44. Poor Papa John

In retrospect, this was kind of a lousy thing to do, but you justify a lot of things in college because you have no money. So, when I was a freshman in college I lived in the campus dorms, and there was a Papa Johns about a mile away that we’d order from. They made a ton of deliveries to the dorms every night, and they’d always bring several room orders at the same time to save gas.

So, my dorm buddies and I would place an order for a large pizza from one dorm room, and then about 30 seconds later, we’d place an order for another pizza with different toppings from the room next door. This was important—when the delivery driver would show up with the pizzas, we’d take them back to our dorm rooms and switch them.

Then we’d call the pizza place back to say they sent us the wrong order. They never questioned it, because it seemed like a reasonable mix-up, and they never asked us to return the pizzas. Their policy at the time was basically “my bad, we’ll send the correct order immediately,” and then they’d tell us to go ahead and keep the original pizza since it was their mistake (even though it wasn’t).

We pulled this scam several times and it worked like a freaking charm. Four pizzas for $20 and we each pitched in about $4. It sure was better than eating Top Ramen.


45. You Really Can Cancel At Any Time

My brother-in-law signed up for a contract with DirecTV. He was told that if he wanted to cancel, he would have to do it a week before the installation date. Well, he forgot all about it, and he called them the day before the installation. They told him he couldn’t cancel, so he asked them to reschedule the installation for two weeks later. Then, he called them back and canceled the contract.


46. No Hablo Espanol

In my Spanish class, we use a program called VHL central for homework. Most of the questions are multiple-choice, and it gives you unlimited attempts to answer them. I simply select A for all the answers and submit them. Then, I select B for all the ones I got wrong and submit. Then I do the same with C and so on and so forth.

Consequently, I can’t speak Spanish.


47. Serial Codebuster

Back in ’95, there was a Kellogg’s contest where you would get a code printed on the inside of a box—cereal, pop-tarts, what have you—and you would call a 1-800 number and enter the code to see if it was a winner. The mistake on their part was not randomizing the codes. This made it easy for me to pull my “scam”—I would just keep calling back and enter the same code, but change the last number by one until I got a winning code.

The prize was only a baseball poster, but that was kind of cool for kid me.


48. Survey Says? Free Sandwiches

Arby’s once had a kind of deal where you got a free regular roast beef sandwich if you completed the customer survey. So, my buddies and I, when we were really hungry, would buy like an apple turnover—or whatever was cheapest—do the customer survey really quickly on a cell phone, then redeem the receipt for free roast beef. That was a sweet deal enough, but it got even better.

About 50% of the time, we’d get another customer service code to do another survey, which got us another free roast beef. We would have competitions to see who could get the most sandwiches.


49. A Gift That Keeps On Giving

I once worked selling tickets at a horse race track. Every week, the track would put two-for-one coupons in the paper. So, I would find discarded papers, cut out all the coupons, and take them to work. Most people came in with no coupon, so I would put a coupon in the register and pocket the difference. The register was always balanced.

But I took it even further—I also talked to the horse owners about how they thought their horse would do, then I would use the coupon money to bet on the horses. The management knew I was up to something, but they had no way of proving it. The accounting all added up: my register was the only one that came out perfectly balanced every day. I also won a lot of horse race bets.


50. They Tipped The Scales

My senior English teacher in high school gave us her entire grading scale and assignment list for the semester. A buddy and I did the math and realized we only had to work hard for several weeks in order to pass. We then just stopped turning in assignments and aced the tests. She kept telling us that we needed to turn things in and that she’d give partial credit, but we declined.

Eventually, we got to the end of the semester, and she was passing out final grades. She got over to us, laid our grades on our desks, and looked us in our eyes. Her next words made us want to jump out of our seats: “Thanks to you two, I’m going to have to change my grading system.” We both got an A. I think he got a couple of tenths of a percent higher for turning in one more assignment than I did—over-achiever.


Sources: 1, 2

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