Smart People Share Their ‘And That’s How I Beat The System’ Stories
Why follow the rules when you could benefit and beat the system? While you may not feel like you have the skills to slip around the laws of society, they are more than possible to outwit. You could save money, time, and energy by doing so– and plenty of people have experienced the perks of cleverly tricking the system!
Have you ever considered rewiring your computer to play video games at work? Or earned a college degree for free…without a single scholarship? What about getting your child a great education under someone else’s address? These scenarios may sound difficult to pull off, yet plenty of genius people have, and they’ve found immense success because of it. Even if you’re a die-hard rule follower, you must admire the ingenuity of those who completely outsmart the system. These incredible people did just that– and you won’t believe the loopholes they found!
#35 At Least Someone Won’t Drown In Loans
I was paying out of state tuition for college in Texas. I looked up all the ways I could get in-state tuition and there were four different ways.
1. Marry a Texan
2. Own property in Texas for one year
3. Hold a job in Texas for one year
4. Own a business in Texas for one year
So naturally, 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.
#34 The Dream Of Anyone Who Fears Public Speaking
In high school, my Spanish teacher had a stack of 30 notecards, with each of our names 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 the cards on her desk, saw mine on top quickly took it and threw it away. Never got called on the whole year.
#33 Daddy’s Little Con-Artist
So, I was 11-years-old and at a water park with my family. I really wanted to go to Burger King that day, and my dad had said repeatedly no way, he didn’t have the money for that.
They had this system where when you arrive, you bought a bracelet for $4, which you could exchange for a tube to ride around on stuff. At the end of the day, you’d return the bracelet and they’d give you $1.
It was around the middle of the day, and there were people both coming and going, and there was a really long line at the stand to get/return bracelets.
So 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 went 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. Rinsed and repeated a bunch of times, spent about a half an hour hustling.
Went back to my dad with $40 bucks and gave it to him, and explained 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.
#32 This Guy’s Gonna Be Successful
Sat down and read my graduation requirements for university and went through all the classes that could cross across different fields. My university allowed for some classes to count twice if used for different degrees. In the public university system, I graduated in four years, with over 180 credit hours, and three degrees. 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 their rules after my graduation because of me.
#31 Way To Be A Leech, You Genius
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. I then 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 Walmart.com. I made enough in a year to buy my kids a trampoline.
#30 Pity Sure Came In Handy
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 the TV ($2200) and the warranty ($450). He took the price of the TV down to $1700 so I would buy the warranty.
A day after the TV was delivered I went back to the store and returned the warranty.
#29 Do They Not Keep Records Of These Things?
I never graduated from high school. I went back a year later and told the office clerk that I had graduated and didn’t get my diploma. They gave me my diploma and now I’ve been working in the school system for ten years.
#28 And This Is Why We Don’t Teach Kids Coding
In both seventh and eighth grade, I could change the score I got at the end of my test by simply entering:
#27 Scamming Has Never Been So Easy
I put $15 on a debit card I never use and “monthly subscribed” for Spotify. The next month they obviously had a problem processing my payment but continued to give me premium service. It’s been five months and their system still hasn’t caught it.
#26 It’s Like They Were Asking For It
Do standardized tests count as systems?
In elementary school, we had to take one that was a week long.
You would get one booklet, say 50 pages, we’re told to do pages one through ten, hand it in, next day you get it back, do pages 11-20, hand it in, get it back the third day, do pages 21-30, etc.
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.
#25 This Is A True Double-Whammy
The cafe in my office building sells soup.
12 oz: $1.39 and 16 oz: $2.79
The lady at the register always thinks I’m weird for buying two smalls.
They also have a rewards “buy nine get your tenth free!” And I get double punches for my two soups.
#24 I Mean…They’re Learning To Be Independent
I convinced my high school system I was emancipated when I was fifteen with no supporting paperwork. I got to know the secretary and asked once what I needed on their end because I was getting emancipated. 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, explaining 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.
#23 Now This Is What We Call Ingenuity
In work, we have a clocking in/out system which pays you an extra 15 minutes wage if you stay for seven minutes (for example, shift ends at 8 PM… if I stay clocked in until 8:07, I get paid an extra 15 minutes).
Now, I make sure to turn up to work at least 7 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 £700-800 on my yearly wage.
#22 If Only We Were All This Lucky
I sit in on college and graduate level courses without signing up or paying even the reduced audit fees. I simply show up on the first day of class early, wait for the teacher to be free for a minute, and ask if they mind if I sit in. Nine times out of ten they’ll let me sit in on lectures, seven out of ten on discussion groups. I do this simply because I enjoy learning, and even if teachers aren’t supposed to let me sit in, they’re in charge of enforcing that and enjoy teaching to engaged students so they’re generally happy to have me. There are even schools which allow you to test for credits so you can turn this free education into a quick and cheap degree when you’ve done enough of it.
#21 Their Loss Is Also Their Gain
Had to park in New Orleans for a week, was going to cost $140. Went to post and if you lost your ticket it was only $50. I didn’t lose my ticket, but I said I did. Take that system!
#20 This Is Every Child’s Fantasy
This ice cream chain used to have this “ice cream card”, where you deposited money to a chip card, and if you paid with it you’d get a discount.
Turned out that the amount of money on the card was just some variable in its memory and no particular security around it.
A few lines of code and some instructions, and the card would always reset back to $10 automatically.
Free ice cream ahoy!
#19 A Trip Down Easy Street
It wasn’t intentional, but I got a free $60 bus ride last year.
I accidentally booked my trip for the wrong day and didn’t realize 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 I had bought was scheduled to leave tomorrow and that I couldn’t get on this one. I was upset since I had already taken a two-hour bus ride to get to this bus station and it was about one in the morning. He felt bad and since there was one extra seat on the bus, let me take it.
The next day, after I’d arrived, I got an email saying that, due to snow/ice/bad road conditions, my bus was canceled. You had the choice to either reschedule or get a refund. I would have done nothing, but it even said that if you didn’t reschedule within 72 hours or so, they would just issue a refund.
Boom. Free trip.
#18 They’re Really Making Bank
I worked at a takeaway restaurant. One of the few perks for the employees was that if you if 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 Coke Cola. Basically, whenever you bought a bottle, you could use the code on the label to earn points on the Coke Cola website. You can probably see where this is going now.
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.
#17 Extreme Couponing Just Got Better
Last month, ShopHouse (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” (with no restrictions.) I live in an apartment, and some of my neighbors threw the coupons into the junk mail recycling bin without realizing what they were doing. For the days following the delivery of these coupons, I searched the bins for these 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 = $480 of free food.
#16 Enough Bottles To Throw A Party
In the mid 90’s there was a 20oz cola that had instant winners of 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).
Anyways, all you had to do was hold the bottle at the correct angle and you could see in the reflection off 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.
#15 Getting A Master’s Degree… On The Beach?
I was interning while getting my masters degree. For my thesis project, I had decided I wanted to something practical that applies to my internship and might be useful beyond academia. This was also nice because I would get paid to work on it (paid internship).
Anyway, I suppose just getting paid to do my school work was a pretty good cheat of the system, but my coup de grace was convincing my boss to let me work remotely. This not only allowed me to work from home (getting paid to do my homework at 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 setup.
#14 Might As Well Save Up For Christmas…
I own a motorcycle but don’t have a garage so during winter months I take my motorcycle to the pawn shop and take $100 loan on it they store it and keep it garaged and I pay them $10 a month to keep renewing my loan and keeping the motorcycle there.
#13 Hey, Bootcamp Sucks Anyways
So I was in the Army, like 80% of men my age, in Finland. It was the last stretch, the last camp we had to go to. Would be one week at some random location that I had no intention of going to.
Lucky me, I had gone to the military hospital to get my allergy test done a couple of weeks earlier (while you’re in the army you get all the tests and medical stuff for free, so why not). I knew the medical staff’s rulings always override the training side, and the communication between the two is well lacking.
Anyway, we had to pack our ‘täyspakkaus’, basically all your gear you might need while there. I did this but crammed it in my locker. Then I proceeded to chill for a while in our guards’ room until our officer cadet came to ask why my gear wasn’t in the PASI yet. Casually just made the remark that I had a release from the hospital that I can’t go, allergies you see. Cadet started to steam a bit and yelling that now all the guard rosters were wrong and needed to be redone.
I thought that this can’t be this easy. Waited a while. A day. A few days. Then I ran into my lieutenant in the barracks. He was just counting how many men were sick/not in camp and started to fume to the captain. They didn’t check if I was really released from camp.
I never got caught.
#12 This Is The Definition Of An Epic Single Mother
When my son was little, I was a single mother without child support (dad was on the certificate, just didn’t pay), living in a very bad area with an underfunded school system. When I went down to get a look at it, I was told that because the boy had been born with a tied tongue and still had some residual speech issues, he would be placed in a special ed program. All disabled students were placed in the same program: speech difficulties, Down syndrome, motor difficulties, intellectual disability. The place looked, sounded and seemed to be run as a harsh, overstrained institution.
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 in part to an 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, I went to the post office and opened a box under my name, tied to her address. I called the phone company and had the bill set up in my name and sent 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 him using my mother’s address, and 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 6:00 PM, 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.
#11 Why Do More Work Than You Need To?
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 worked hard for several weeks, 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, and 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, looked us in the eyes and said “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 tenths of a percent higher for turning in one more assignment than I did. Over-achiever.
#10 There’s No Way They Should Have Gotten Credit
In high school, we were allowed to take a personal studies class instead of an actual class that’s offered. You come up with your own course, curriculum, and a final project to pretty much anything you want to learn that’s not currently offered. The trick is you have to get a teacher to be your advisor/teacher for your choice. Not many teachers are willing to do extra work because a student didn’t want to take the offered courses.
So, my senior year of high school, my best friend and I are looking over the possible classes we need to take. They assign you the core classes but you need to pick two extra electives. Being seniors we already took the low work electives and were faced with boring options or options that from other student’s experiences were a lot of work. For some reason, our art teacher took a liking to us. So we come up with the idea that we want 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 agrees and we are pretty excited.
The next semester rolls around. Since the course is an independent study there isn’t a specific hour we have for that class. So we take our independent study with the art teacher during the time slot she has another class. The class that’s going on along with our independent study? AP Art. Advanced placement art. This is for students who plan on going to college for some form of art. AP classes count as college credits. So while the teacher is scrutinizing the students on poor shading in a pencil drawing that looks flawless to my inept eye, my friend and I are 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 while she is critiquing the AP students on what I would call awesome work. Our water balloon paint monstrosity was hailed as amazing while their picture-perfect drawings were always short of the mark.
I always thought she kinda felt bad for us. 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 2 dumb jocks throwing paint around. Towards the end of the semester, the teacher pulls us aside and says that she is going to include is in the AP class, grade us along with them, including the college credit. That our creative process has been unparalleled in recent years.
#9 Who Said Work Can’t Be Fun?
I and some colleagues at my first job played a ton of Unreal Tournament during office hours even though the system administrator had installed a piece of spyware on each PC (“ZenWorks”) that was reporting on what applications were open, how much time each application window was in the foreground, etc.
We tricked the spyware by using a hex editor to modify some strings in the UT executable and make it look like other programs (powerpoint, visual studio, depending on what we were supposed to be using the most at work). We used to play at least four to five hours a week.
#8 So This Is… Fraud, Right?
About 25 years ago I made an $800 purchase on a credit card. It was charged twice. The credit card company called me to inquire about it and I told them it was a duplicate. Ten minutes later they called again so I explained again it was a duplicate entry. Apparently, both reps deleted the charge, so I sat with a +$800 balance for a few months until I closed the card and they sent me a check.
Stealing? I guess so in the end, but I’m still sleeping pretty well.
#7 Every College Kid Needs A Friend Like This
When I went to college (CSU Monterey Bay), 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, and one car could fit in the driveway. However, you could have five people living in a unit, and if they all had cars, you had to drop $120 to get another pass. Otherwise, you got a $45 ticket every night they found your car. We’re all broke, so this is obviously a terrible situation.
Now, they did have a guest pass system that any student could use ten times during a semester if you have visitors. You’d click the link on your online profile, and you’d 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, the QR code was simply the date and time of printing hashed into the barcode. No other data.
So, I downloaded the raw HTML of the page that was generated, wrote a quick PHP script to randomize the time and loop through the next 50 days, and printed out passes for all of my friends’ cars. I decided to not sell the permits to people that needed them, and rather generated a standalone PHP program to generate permits up to ten at a time that they could print themselves. Fill in your car’s info, generate ten printable pages, print ’em, and stash ’em in your car.
I was a hero.
#6 The Lengths We Go To For Our Technology
I had been wanting an iPhone for some time but the only local carrier was bad— not even price-wise, but with signals and coverage. Anyway, out of nowhere, a new carrier appeared where you could purchase from their website. I dithered around too long and they sold out a couple 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. Made it through the checkout process for my shiny new iPhone! A couple days later I get a call from the carrier and I freak out thinking they’re calling to bust me. Turns out they just call to verify addresses for new customers and 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 bad online store that let me order it instead.
#5 Okay… This Is A Little Bit Cruel
Back in high school, we were on a trip to Universal Studios (lived in Florida, wasn’t really that uncommon) and we decided to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. So we were walking through one of the parks and saw an alley that led to Hard Rock, followed it, walked through these turnstile things, opened a door, walked through most of the restaurant, and took a seat at the first open table.
Then I noticed the line out the front door. The waitress walked up, “Oh, they didn’t tell me they seated someone yet. Here, let me grab some menus.”
We cheated the system by skipping a 45-minute wait line by simply walking in the back and being Alpha about wanting our meals.
#4 Man, Did They Pick The Right Service
I got a speeding ticket when I was 17 and was sentenced to ‘teen court’. The penalties were various community service jobs you 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 1997). I was only working on documents that were not sensitive like various old budgets and stuff, but the sensitive documents were just on another shelf in the same room.
After about an hour I found my speeding ticket record, shredded it, and left. Never heard anything else about it.
#3 If There’s One Way To Get Out Of Class…
We figured out how to skip school every Thursday afternoon for five years without being caught. At my school, Thursday afternoon was sport. You had to sign up for a sport at the start of each term and names were checked off to make sure you signed up. Then you get kicked out of the sport you signed up to. For some reason, my school offered fishing as a sport. The teacher that took it was super passionate about fishing and hated anyone who didn’t take it seriously. So every term we turn up to first fishing session with broom handles with string and paperclips tied to them as our rods and boom, kicked out of fishing.
So the teacher sends a note to the office with the next roll sheet that we’re no longer on the roll. This isn’t uncommon because you’re allowed to change sports in the first two weeks in case you sign up for something and then don’t like it. The school’s system works so that the office ladies only enter in the system if you’re absent and you’re otherwise assumed to be present. But now we’re not on any roll and we don’t get marked absent anywhere.
#2 Those Extra Two Minutes Must Really Suck
I have the school bell audio recorded on my phone and play it two minutes before class is supposed to end. Yes, it has worked.
#1 No One Said You Had To Be Brilliant To Win
In elementary school, we took tests that determined whether we got placed in gifted programs. They were bubble tests. The test was timed, but we got all the extra time we needed to completely fill in the bubbles since at that age we all lacked the skills to do that well. So, I just made little marks in the bubbles and ended up answering two times as many questions as anybody else because I wasn’t wasting testing time filling in bubbles.
Well, this got me into the smart kid’s classes, where I got extra attention and got smarter as a result. Truth was, I was the dumbest kid in those classes. But, with all the extra challenges, I got smarter. As I got smarter, I was put in more higher level classes. I feel like I would have been left behind and not lived up to my potential had I not been a clever little boy that day.