A man accused of stealing virtual Zynga Poker chips worth £7.4 million has been jailed for 2 years by Exeter Crown Court after pleading guilty to five charges of hacking and theft.
Ashley Mitchell of Devon had hacked into the mainframe of US based social games maker Zynga and had stolen 400 billion electronic credits from the company worth £7.4 million.
The court heard that Mitchell had sold a part of those virtual poker chips, which are not used for real money gambling yet can be purchased from Zynga, for £53,000.
Mitchell, who has a history of gambling addiction, used fake Facebook accounts and a front company to sell the credits on Facebook. The hacker also runs a Facebook based gambling app which makes him around £100,000 a year.
While announcing his judgement, Judge Philip Wassall said, “The dishonesty in this case was substantial and protracted. Online security is a priority for everyone these days. You deprived Zynga of income. It is quite clear you used a considerable degree of expertise and persistence to hack into the system.”
Mitchell was also sentenced for an extra 30 weeks for breaching a 40-week suspended sentence that was handed to him in 2008 for hacking into the computer network of Torbay council, where he previously worked.