After a social media scam went horribly wrong in Buffalo, New York on Monday, four people were killed and one is facing criminal prosecution. They are believed to have used an ignition exploit that was popularized on TikTok to steal a Kia Sportage. They were able to start the car easily, but it was difficult to stop safely.
What Are The Details?
Joseph Gramaglia, Buffalo Police Commissioner, stated that a Kia was taken on Sunday night. The vehicle was found near the Scajaquada Expressway on Monday morning at 6:45 AM. This caused traffic to stutter for more than an hour.
Sixteen teens were in the vehicle before the crash. After the crash, only one driver survived.
The New York Post reported that Ahjanae Harper, 14, Kevin Payne, 16, Swazine Swindle, 17, and Marcus Webster, 19, died after being thrown from the wreck.
WGRZ reported that Ahjanae Harper was among the dead. She was a young mother.
The tragedy of the crash on the Scajaquada killed 4 young people. I’m learning more about the victims. The 14 y/o was a mother @WGRZ pic.twitter.com/LDZY6ldAm7
— Claudine Ewing (@ClaudineWgrz) October 25, 2022
Another 14-year-old girl, who flew, survived and is now in good health at Erie County Medical Center. However, she is currently in intensive care.
The driver, aged 16, survived the crash but is now facing a felony charge of unauthorized use and criminal possession of the stolen property. WNBC reported that Erie County District Attorney’s Office plans to file additional charges.
Gramaglia said that this was a terrible, terrible outcome to such young children who had their whole lives ahead of them. Gramaglia suggested that the Kia Challenge may have cut off the lives of the car thieves.
The Kia Challenge
TikTok is seeing a growing trend that encourages delinquents to exploit a vulnerability within Kia and Hyundai vehicles. This allows them to use a USB cable, or any other charging cable to bypass the keyed starter/ignition switch. In July, TikTok began posting videos of carjackings. Some of these videos explained step-by-step how the exploit works.
For most cars to start electronic immobilizers need key confirmation. However, they were only available in 26% of the 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia models. This makes them both vulnerable to the USB cable bypass hack. This is why Hyundai and Kia models were chosen.
The result was shared by one Twitter user:
They found my car. Damn those Kia boys. pic.twitter.com/18VS0YmUl6
— 🟠Shleb👽🕸 (@Shelbrina3) October 26, 2022
Buffalo News reports that the Highway Loss Data Institute found that Hyundai and Kia models from 2015 to 2019 are almost twice as likely to get stolen than other vehicles of similar age.
According to the Washington Post, this is a national problem that has led Kia to install an immobilizer on all 2022 models to prevent lawsuits.
Gramaglia stated to reporters that they are very easy for thieves. You can find the information. Many cities in the country are considering filing lawsuits against Kia due to the ease with which they can steal these cars.