A hacker says he used a bot to scam Taco Bell into sending him a PlayStation Vita during the "Unlock the Box" contest.

Using an automated program to generate codes for Taco Bell's Vita contest-turned-debacle, a message board user named "Sinister" says he managed to win one of Sony's new handheld systems. Writing in a post on the ExploitN forum last week, he uploaded pictures of the Vita and the letter he received from the organization that helped run the contest, Ventura Associates.

"Got with the same bot I used for the Vita sign up page," Sinister wrote in the post, which has since been edited. (Kotaku obtained a screenshot of the original post.)


A tipster sent us a screenshot of a message board post in which user Sinister claims to have used a bot to win a PlayStation Vita.

Taco Bell's Vita contest has been plagued with issues since it debuted in January. Many contestants have contacted Kotaku over the past few weeks with reports that their codes were invalid or already used. Some contestants were informed that they won the contest only to find out later that they were misled because of what Taco Bell called "technical issues."

On January 26, the hacker Sinister seems to have released his bot to other forum members. Other members of the message board have also said they used the bot to win PlayStation Vitas from Taco Bell.


This seems to corroborate Taco Bell's claim last week that some contestants were trying to "defraud the system." It would also explain the technical issues that convinced some non-winners that they won. Taco Bell has said it will run a second drawing in March for those misled winners.

This afternoon, Taco Bell sent Kotaku a statement on the hack:

We have zero tolerance for individuals who attempt to attack or illegally enter the Unlock the Box promotion. Any attempt to deliberately undermine the legitimate operation of this promotion is not only prohibited by the rules, but also may violate criminal and civil laws. We will fully investigate these allegations and will explore all legal remedies.


Kotaku has reached out to Sinister and ExploitN and will update if we hear anything.