British Online poker hacker gets two years in jail

Posted by Dan Brown in Poker News, Date: March 24, 2011

Zynga Poker

The hacker who went through Facebook’s instantiation of Zynga Poker‘s software to cyber-steal 400 billion virtual poker chips and later sell them on ebay and through a number of social networks has been given a jail sentence of two years by a British court.

Ashley Mitchell saw his chance and went for it in 2009, hacking into Zynga’s Texas Hold’em Poker application on Facebook and giving himself 400 billion virtual poker chips. Numerous Facebook accounts were used to store the chips which he then sold on eBay to Zynga poker players for a total of £53,000, or $85,870 at the time.

During the trial, prosecutor Gareth Evans revealed that Mitchell would have earned as much as £184,000, almost $300,000, if he had managed to sell the whole stash. As Zynga Poker players can purchase chips directly from the company, the value of the stolen chips is a cool $12 million if sold at Zynga’s legal prices.

Mitchell was found guilty to four charges of converting criminal property and one count of violating the Computer Misuse Act. Mitchell’s attorney told the court that his client suffered from a gambling addiction during the period that crimes were committed and spent as much as £1,000 per day on gambling sites. Mitchell offered to pay back the money he had made from funds earned selling chips on a similar Facebook play-money application, Gambino Poker.

“People rely on computer systems. Anyone who has managed to get into these systems for their own ends should expect a stiff sentence.” Said Judge Philip Wassail, who added another 7.5 months to the sentence for Mitchell’s crime of hacking local council servers in 2008 in order to modify his personal details.

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