The crafty young girl combined her innocent looks, stealth, and some good acting to play virtual hooky from Zoom classes for three whole weeks.
Mike Piccolo couldn't help but feel proud—and a little scared—of his 8-year-old niece when he heard how she ingeniously skipped online classes for weeks by hoodwinking a bunch of unsuspecting adults. The con was so beautifully executed that he took to Twitter to share how the crafty young girl combined her innocent looks, stealth, and some good acting to play virtual hooky from Zoom classes for three whole weeks after figuring out a simple "hack" in the program.
The grifter: My 8 year old niece— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
The prize: Playing virtual hooky permanently (School Zoom calls)
The marks: My sister, my brother in law, the teacher, the school’s computer teacher, the principle and Zoom's support team
The con: How she pulled it off… thread pic.twitter.com/cdz3SRhRu9
Here's the now-viral thread that's got Twitter users taking their hats off to the little hustler:
Day 1: (Zero Day) My sister has three kids, all are currently in Zoom classes. Mysteriously one day, my niece's zoom stopped working. She went and told my sister who tried for over an hour to get her logged back in but could not. She figured it was a weird glitch.— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
Day 2: The next day, sure as shit, the same thing happened. My niece was kicked off and couldn’t log back in. My sister emails the teacher and tells her she is having issues with zoom and she will try to figure it out.— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
Day 3: Same story. Kicked off and couldn’t login. The error says “Incorrect password” no matter how many times they try. My sister calls the teacher and they spend an hour or so trying to figure it out. No luck.— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
Day 4: My sister now takes my niece to her friends house to see if it is something with her internet or IP. Same story. It works but then kicks her off and can’t log back in. This has to be some crazy bug in Zoom. “Maybe her account is flagged?”, my sister (The Mark) exclaims.— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
Day 5: Issue continues. After hours on the phone with Zoom tech support the techs are completely stumped. They say that the account was locked at some point but my sister knows there has been hundreds of login attempts from multiple locations so that makes sense. (or does it?)— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
Day 6: Again, same issue with Zoom. The teacher recreates the whole zoom classroom from scratch. All thirty students have to update their calendar invites, re-login, etc. “This has to work, right??” Nope.— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
Day 7: Multiple calls to the principle finally gets the schools computer teacher to come out to the house to try and debug the issue on site. No luck.— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
The rest of week 2: My sister has essentially given up on Zoom class for her and is now having to fully homeschool her. “At least I get to help you around the house” my niece says innocently. What a sweetheart.— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
Week 3: Now my sister is not even trying to have her attend school and is doing one on one homeschool. The rest of the time, my niece is helping out her siblings with their school (or playing if my sister is too busy to make sure she isn’t)— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
Yesterday: My sister sent my niece back to her friend’s house where the problem seems to be happening less often. They sign her in and Zoom which seems to be working well for a while. Her friend happens to walk around the corner and sees my niece log out of Zoom!— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
My sisters friend asks why she did that and she replies “Oh it wasn’t working well so I was trying to fix it.” Skeptical but doesn't want to review her hand my sisters friend pretends that makes sense and walks out. The walls are closing in for my poor unsuspecting niece.— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
My sister’s friend is on to the con at this point. She now secretly watches from the other room where my niece cannot see her. After about an hour on Zoom, my niece can’t take it anymore and executes the con to escape the boredom.— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
The more times you do this, the longer the wait period for you to get back into Zoom. She also noticed that the error that is presented to a user when they are locked is “Incorrect password” and not “your account has been locked”— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
Is it bad that when I heard the story I felt proud more than anything? As someone in the IT industry, let's pray she goes white-hat or we might all be in trouble.— Mike Piccolo (@mfpiccolo) February 13, 2021
Speaking to Bored Panda about his niece's smart antics, Piccolo—a software developer and entrepreneur from Sacramento, California—explained how it all started. "At some point, my niece accidentally entered the wrong password a few times in Zoom. She then went and got my sister who tried to log her in and couldn’t get her back in right away so she got to skip class. My sister didn’t know that my niece accidentally entered the password incorrectly a bunch of times already which is what set up the scheme. In short, the first time was an accident but the light bulb clicked so she tried it again the next day," he said.
As someone who works in the IT industry, Piccolo said he was pretty proud of how his niece figured out the loophole in the program and used it to her advantage. "Luckily for me, I am the uncle so I don't have to worry about disciplining. Uncles get to be on the kid's side. I talk with my sister about once a week, so I was getting updates on the issue before anyone figured it out. It was shocking to hear that it was my niece all along, but it was also incredibly impressive. She was able to pull off skipping school for weeks right under the noses of a bunch of adults who were trying to figure out the issue," Piccolo said.
"I work in the IT field, so her story reminded me of issues I see with user experience, quality assurance, and security. Most people think hacking is deeply technical, but in most cases, it is the combination of a defect or flaw in a system combined with some social component. In this case, the social component was her innocence. 'It can't be the sweet eight-year-old girl'"
"She is a sweet girl, so she hasn't done anything tricky since then. My sister did all of the things a good parent should have done here: grounding, no electronics outside of schoolwork, written apologies to everyone affected, etc." Piccolo said of the aftermath of this ingenious prank. "They were both interviewed recently and they asked my niece if she was going to pull any more hijinx and she answered 'I don't know, maybe.' My sister replied 'What!!?!' I guess we will have to wait and see."