Brit jailed over Zynga poker chip theft

Hacker given two years after making off with virtual currency valued at $12 million by social-gaming kingpin.

Zynga has rocketed to prominence within the gaming industry in just the past couple of years, reportedly accumulating a net worth that exceeds that of even the decades-old Electronic Arts. With that much money floating around, it should come as no surprise that someone would try to make off with a slice of that pie.

The Guardian reports today that Ashley Mitchell of Paignton, Devon, has been sentenced to two years in jail after stealing some 400 billion chips for use in Zynga's Texas HoldEm Poker. According to the British newspaper, Mitchell performed the theft by hacking into Zynga's servers, gaining access to two employees' accounts, and then transferring chips to his own account. He then sold the chips--valued by Zynga at $12 million--to other Facebook users.

Lady Luck appears to have completely and utterly abandoned Ashley Mitchell.

Mitchell reportedly made about $87,000 after selling about one-third of the stolen chips before being caught by investigators. The thief was identified after he used his own Facebook account during one of the hacking attempts.

"It was clear there had been a systematic approach adopted in probing and accessing Zynga. Checks on [Mitchell's] bank account showed at this time he bought items including a Rolex watch and was also spending money on online gambling," the prosecution argued.

Mitchell received an additional 30 weeks of jail time for violating his probation on a prior hacking-related conviction.

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Discussion

60 comments
Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

I Hate Zynga with their list of crappy games!! thanks to them a lot of people become compulsive gamblers,, and Zynga put those kind of crap for wider audience, kids, parents, college student, now they playing that games, putting their money on it!! and it happen in part of their social / everyday lives,,, like It's their normal activity,, It's more dangerous than playing most of "M" rated games IMHO. :(

JunglemanchiId
JunglemanchiId

@nixtd - Yes that's right. I see an avatar before a username. Is that you all full up or do you need some more food?

stakex007
stakex007

@aphextwin777 - He might have stole virtual items... but they were still valued at over $12 million real dollars. Think how massive a stroy this would have been, and how long someone would go to jail if they walked into a Vegas casino and stole $12 million in chips. So really, Id say this guy got off ver very light... With that said, the moron should have been given an extra 5 years for being dumb enough to use his own Facebook account while trying to hack the site. That kind of ignorance deserves to be punished just as much as his criminal intent.

nixtd
nixtd

@JunglemanchiId So the football team he supports make you think that he lives in england and not the fact that his name is LondonGamer?....

Shardz7
Shardz7

At least he didn't have pit bosses coming at him with saws and hammers like they would have in Vegas or Atlantic City. Selling chips on Facebook was this guy's fatal mistake, though.

firehawk998
firehawk998

Rule number 1 when being a thief never use your real name or Identity when selling stolen stuff to others especially to others on the internet and also he did all such work to steal fake money. Imagine if he stole real money .

JunglemanchiId
JunglemanchiId

@LondonGamer986 - Because many Americans struggle to realise that someone from Scotland(me) and someone from England(I'm assuming you, due to Arsenal :P) are from different places. It's a bit like when ANYONE on American TV has an English accent, usually cockney, they are just referred to as having a British accent (no such thing)

aphextwin777
aphextwin777

2 years in jail for stealing virtual money? Someone I unfortunately knew was committed of rape and domestic violence, he was let out after only 6 months... this law system seems heavy hand on fraud and financial theft yet soft on acts of violence towards individuals.

LondonGamer986
LondonGamer986

He's English, So why can't you just say Englishman? Why just 'Brit'?

11122478
11122478

@grungeman91, yes he stole virtual currency, but as soon as he sold it for real money it becomes a criminal offence. He earned that $87,000 from hacking and stealing something. So he deserves to be in jail, just as if he had walked into a bank and took the $87,000.

WWIAB
WWIAB

My dad actually knew of this guy personally, I live about half a mile away from paignton. This guy was sacked from his job for hacking into local council servers and stealing private information, he even remotely accessed a co workers laptop and started browsing at inappropriate websites, which nearly caused a divorce He is generally disliked by everyone who knew him a Torbay Council, he was never trustworthy and abused his power So they hired my Dad to do his job!

charmed_star
charmed_star

@grungeman91: I'm cracking up because I was thinking the exact same thing! I don't play it... never heard of it... but I'm assuming that even though the money is virtual, it has some real value, no? I know that real gambling sites transfer your winnings to whatever checking/credit card you have on file, therefore the money becomes real to spend. Therefore, that means he DID commit real theft. When you think about it... wow. Still, he was stupid to hack using his own Facebook account. Can you say, didiot.

FuriousHamst3r
FuriousHamst3r

I don't blame the hacker for doing what he did, because the way Zynga makes it's billions is a moral fraud. I pity those who bought the virtual coins from the hacker, I mean they're really caught in this never-ending addictive ''get-rich on the back of morons'' scheme.

grungeman91
grungeman91

This has got to be the dumbest thing I've heard today, Going to jail over virtual money...What the hell has happened to this world?

CreatureRising
CreatureRising

Hack a video game to steal money.....Must've been a nerd.

blackace
blackace

@smellyfeet The House always wins ************************************************ That's exactly what I was thinking. Waste of time hacking for virtually money, but he did convert it into real money. He blew it when he used his real facebook account. Ooops, I made a boo-boo. lol!! Got caught and now it's off to jail. Crime never pays.

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

@Tactixally - Devon also has Ambrosia rice and er..... Glastonbury. Yup that's all I can think of. ha ha

ionusX
ionusX

hacking zynga games is like arguing over the internet even if you win your still going to be a loser. and now that lsoer is going to get the shirt sued off him

mrhagane
mrhagane

stupid hacker, hacking server to steal virtual money is really childish act, he even sold it to peoples and even i don't believe peoples want to buy virtual money that doesn't even have any value to be collect. Seriously this is getting old.

szewei85
szewei85

haha i dont really donate my money 2 zynga anyway...real 3d games > zynga any day...zynga games r only 4 people who still use 10 year old PC now lolz

Tactixally
Tactixally

Devon, home of old people, farmers, and a hacker.. finally something interesting to say when somebody asks what its like down here

TheDarkSpot
TheDarkSpot

Ashley boy got caught. Unsuccessful thief was unsuccessful.

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

Poor kid will get nonced to death in prison..... that's what happens though, brought it all on himself

mp01juve
mp01juve

the House alw.... ah someone has already said that but it's a good ol' chestnut

pszone
pszone

It know proves know that future here to get hackers gd makes game companys better than the goverment.

franzito
franzito

Hacking again? This is gettin' old...

Evilnator
Evilnator

"Lady Luck appears to have completely and utterly abandoned Ashley Mitchell." Win

TheTrainer1980
TheTrainer1980

I guess he was taking money out for Hotz and trying to pay his bail for the PS3 hack.

matok1
matok1

**sigh**.........kids.. (lol ,JK--how old is he?)

DomaineStickem
DomaineStickem

wow sucks to be him, hes better off playing Russian roulette with those odds for early parole lol

zidan4000
zidan4000

he deserved it , what kind of a hacker uses his real name in facebook?

rbereczki
rbereczki

It would have been more interesting news if he had thought it through a bit more and got away with it. Any idiot can steal and get caught.

decoy1978
decoy1978

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

sumukh3
sumukh3

@monson21502 rofl! tat was hilarious!

shakensparco
shakensparco

2 years jail time for making $87,000 from selling something that doesn't even exist? I mean, I understand hacking is bad and all, but does anyone realize how long 2 years is?! It's not like Zynga had money directly stolen from them!

the_requiem
the_requiem

Saddest part of it all: People pay actual money to get virtual money.

monson21502
monson21502

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ColJendon
ColJendon

Well then. Isn't that something.

darklord1294
darklord1294

God....used his personal Facebook account to hack the company... I thought hackers were supposed to be "smart".

nixtd
nixtd

@jockie_chan Ashley is a guy's name everywhere apart from america

XeonForce
XeonForce

"Mitchell received an additional 30 weeks of jail time for violating his probation on a prior hacking-related conviction." Spontaneous hacker huh? I guess the future is already here. =P

Ghost_702
Ghost_702

What an idiot. Use your own account, then on top of this, spend money erratically. Reminds me of the Menendez brothers.

LordRaymond
LordRaymond

Zynga net worth is more than EA but server security got infilitrated by a lone hacker. I don't know what to say.

ShimmerMan
ShimmerMan

87k for two years in jail. And even worse, he will probably end up in a cell with a large man covered in tattoos - who goes by the name of 'Baba".. Fail.