Tech by VICE

A Sports App Spammed Push Notifications About a Bizarre, Violent Workplace Beef

Someone hijacked the American Hockey League’s app to send push notifications about throat punching and being owed $6,000.

by Matthew Gault
Jul 11 2019, 1:47pm

A screenshot of a notification from the AHL's official app overlaid on an image of Chicago Wolves goaltender Oscar Dansk from the AHL Calder Cup Finals between the Charlotte Checkers and the Chicago Wolves on June 8, 2019. Image: Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.

Something went wrong with the American Hockey League’s official app on Wednesday. The AHL’s app typically updates users witch scores and reminds them of upcoming games. On July 10, it started sending push notifications about an apparent workplace dispute between Stewart Zimmel and Ian Bowman.

“Stewart Zimmel threatened to punch Ian Bowman in the throat,” one push notification said. “Stewart Zimmel. Since I have no way to contact you are you owe me nearly $6,000 I would ask you contact me about payment,” another push notification said.

When users tried to open the app, a screenshot of a direct message between a Stewart Zimmel and someone else popped up. “Smarten up,” Zimmel allegedly said in the DM portrayed in the hijacked AHL app. “Or I will come and ‘punch you in the throat.’”

AHL, which is the primary minor leagues of the NHL, confirmed to Motherboard that the app sent unauthorized notifications.

“We are aware of the issue some users experienced this morning with unauthorized notifications coming from the AHL mobile app, and we have worked with our app provider to fix the situation,” Jason Chaimovitch, Vice President of Communications for the American Hockey League, said in an email. “We apologize for any inconvenience.”

According to LinkedIn, Stewart Zimmel is the Chief Operating Officer of a company called HockeyTech. HockeyTech created the official AHL Mobile App. Both Bowman and Zimmel worked for a company called Buzzer Apps which was acquired by HockeyTech in March, 2018, according to archived LinkedIn posts.

The AHL did not comment on Bowman or the allegations made in its official apps push notifications.