Hacker Steals Zynga Poker Chips

Zynga PokerAn Englishman faces substantial jail time after he was charged for stealing billions of poker chips from Zynga Poker. Ashley Mitchell, known to the police already for previous hacking convictions, was charged with accessing the systems at Zynga Corporation and stealing a whopping 400 billion Zynga poker chips. These chips are used by players as payment for the group’s Texas Hold ‘em Facebook application and have a retail value of $12 million.

29 year old Ashley Mitchell appeared before the Exeter Crown Court in Devon, UK and pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him. He admitted that sometime in 2009, he accessed Zynga Poker servers and stole the 400 billion virtual chips.  He then sold them on the black market for a fraction of their true worth, yet still earning himself a neat profit in the process.

According to the case’s prosecutor, Gareth Evans: “The defendant sold around one third of the 400 billion poker chips, and looking at the auction history where one can purchase such items, he was selling them for around £430 ($695) per billion.”

Therefore, while the heist was worth $12 million if bought legitimately through Zynga Poker, Mitchell would have made only $300,000 if he had managed to sell them all on the black market.

The prosecutor said that even though that Zynga Poker was not deprived of actual goods and that it was difficult to value what is known as virtual currency, Mitchell’s actions nevertheless caused the company harm as online gamblers could be put off by playing with products by Zynga Poker because of the negative connotations. Zynga Corporation produces other games besides its popular online poker brand.

Admitting to four charges of illegal hacking and a fifth charge under the Computer Misuse Act, Mitchell faces many years in jail.  He has already been convicted in the past for hacking into an employee’s website and changing personal information in return for thousands of dollars. He received a 40 week suspended sentence for the 2008 crime.

Mitchell’s lawyer argued in his defense that he was “wrestling with a gambling addiction” and was spending thousands on internet games. As such, he needed to the money to fund his addiction.

The hacker has been remanded in custody until his sentencing in the coming days.