>HOT !!!! Hacker exploits Zynga Poker Stolen 400 Billion WOW!!!!
Zynga Poker Chip Thief Faces Prison Time
News From : 1UP.COM
Stealing virtual poker chips isn’t as harmless as it might sound.
Virtual poker chips might not sound all that important, but when you steal millions of dollars in chips and attempt to sell them, you’re going to get in serious trouble.
Hacker exploits Zynga Poker for $85,000
Ashley Mitchell admits to British court that he fiddled with virtual poker chips to make money
Playing administrator for the social gaming giant’s Texas Hold’em poker game between June and September 2009, Mitchell moved 400 billion virtual poker chips–worth somewhere between £184,000 (about $296,000) and $12 million. Before he could cash in on all of it by selling the chips for cash, however, Zynga security noticed the unusual activity and busted him.
Judge Philip Wassall says Mitchell could face jail time for the hack, highlighting how seriously governments could take virtual goods in the future, as social gaming companies increasingly establish themselves as businesses here to stay.
The news revives debate over how exactly to categorize a virtual good? Is it like any piece of purchasable property? Does someone who spends money on a virtual good actually own that property?
Last month, mobile gaming company ngmoco faced criticisms for canceling a few of its less popular games because users had actually spent some money on in-game virtual goods. When the games were canceled, users received no refund. Company founder Neil Young told me in an interview that he believes the virtual purchases amount to no more than “components of the entertainment experience,” and therefore, can’t be equated with physical items you buy.
And yet, in this case, the court clearly seems to be leaning toward the argument that virtual items can indeed be treated like real property.
This is something worth watching as social gaming continues to grow in 2011.
Official statement released by Zynga:
Zynga treats game security with the utmost of seriousness. We want to provide our users with the safest and most enjoyable game experience possible. To that end, we have a world class security team which continues to proactively identify and address security breaches with the highest priority. We will pursue these issues vigorously, which could involve criminal and civil prosecutions
29-year-old IT businessman Ashley Mitchell plead guilty to stealing $12 million worth of Zynga Poker chips in a British court yesterday, and is now facing a substantial jail term.
Mitchell appeared at Exeter Crown Court in Devon, England and admitted to accessing the developer’s servers some time between June 30, 2009 and September 7, 2009, stealing 400 billion virtual chips for Zynga Poker, then selling a portion of them for £53,000 ($86,000).
“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,” said prosecutor Gareth Evans, according to a report from local newspaper Herald Express.
Sold legitimately through Zynga, the full amount of chips would have brought in some $12 million. The prosecutor estimated that if Mitchell sold all of the virtual chips on the black market, he would have made a fraction of that, around £184,000 ($297,000).
Evans admitted that valuing virtual currency can be difficult and that the company was not actually deprived of tangible goods, but he said that the theft could still affect the developer by indirectly causing legitimate online gamers to stop playing Zynga Poker or its other games.
Mitchell plead guilty to four charges of converting criminal property and a fifth charge for violating the Computer Misuse Act (“unauthorized access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offenses”).
He was previously convicted in 2008 for hacking into his former employer’s website and changing his personal information to receive £3,498 ($5,600). Mitchell was given a 40-week suspended sentence by the court then — which he is in breach of with these Zynga charges.
The hacker was remanded in custody and now faces a substantial jail term for the latest offenses. Defense solicitor Ben Derby argued that Mitchell committed the crimes during a time when he was “wrestling with a gambling addiction”, having spent £3,000 ($4,800) on online games .
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