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.

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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.
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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