11 November 2022, by Victoria Séveno

A boy enrolled at the De Schalm, a primary school in a town south of Den Bosch, gave his headmaster a bit of a shocking surprise this week, after he accidentally placed an online order for half a million euros worth of teaching materials. 

Pupil at Dutch primary school spends half a million euros

The pupil, who is in Groep 7, so only around 10 or 11 years old, had some issues logging into his Malmberg account – an online calculation programme used in maths classes at a number of schools in the Netherlands. When he was unable to access his account, he attempted to take matters into his own hands. 

After trawling the internet for a while, he discovered the Malmberg online store, where he was able to set up an account with his school-issued email address. Because all email addresses issued to students and staff at De Schalm have the same domain name, the platform didn’t flag him as a pupil, and so he was easily able to place an order for 500.000 euros worth of teaching materials on behalf of his primary school.

Headmaster thought his school had been hacked

Luckily the staff over at Malmberg were suspicious about the size of the order, and so got in touch with the school. “At first we thought we might have been hacked,” headmaster Tom van Esch told Omroep Brabant, going on to explain that when taking a second look at the email address used to place the order, staff recognised the name of their Groep 7 student. 

“When I initially asked him if he had ever been on that site, it didn’t ring a bell. But I was allowed to take a look at the history of his laptop. It turned out that the suspicions were correct,” Van Esch says. The parents of the child were brought into the school to discuss the incident, but the pupil didn’t face any punishment for his misstep: “He certainly had no wrong intentions and was completely unaware of the consequences.”

The school was able to cancel the order at Malmberg, and has certainly learned from the incident. “This should not be technically possible,” Van Esch said, with Omroep Brabant reporting that De Schalm is adjusting its rules so that any new accounts set up for the online store must be approved by the school’s ICT director.

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