British Internet Casino Hacker Sentenced
A twenty-nine year old British male Ashley Mitchell who stole $12 million in virtual chips was sentenced by the Exeter Crown Court recently. Mitchell also sullied the Computer Misuse Act; as a result of this little stint he received a two years prison sentence. He also received a 10 month suspended sentence in 2008 for hacking into a local government network. Mitchell finds himself in hot water now because of the Zynga hacking incident and received an extra 30 weeks in jail; since he breached the original terms of his sentence.
Mitchell succeeded by hacking into Zynga’s servers and snatched 400 billion virtual poker chips, according to Zynga these chips have a net worth of $12 million. A Zynga spokesperson said these virtual chips are worthless, unless Mitchell sold these chips to other Zynga players on the black market. However, Mitchell managed to sell $86,000 worth of his booty well below its current worth when he was apprehended by authorities. If he managed to sell the virtual chips at this rate he would have earned himself a hefty pay check of $300,000.
Philip Wassal, the judge who presided over the hearing, told Mitchell, “You utilised your knowledge to do bad instead of good, via the software you purchased to hack into Zynga’s computer system. The breach of their security system by you is indicative of perseverance and time wise it must have been laborious.” The judge said in this case, “As humans we have become very dependent on computer systems, anyone who violates the use and privileges of these systems must be punished severely.”
Prosecutor Gareth Evans indicated during the hearing that Zynga’s currency is in-game and operates via the internet only. Luckily this virtual theft did not impact upon this internet casino’s profits; however Zynga might lose some players who fear that their personal information might be exploited by hackers. Mitchell, acknowledged his guilt, he also has a history of problem gambling. Mitchell’s attorney, Ben Darby said his client spends more or less a £1,000 a day at internet casinos and poker rooms.