Facebook’s Zynga Burgler Gets 2 Years In Jail

We reported to you a while ago that a hacker had burgled the games developed Zynga. A substancial amount of virtual poker chips were stolen and now the thief has been brought to justice, serving 2 years in jail.

The Guardian has reported that Ashley Mitchell, a 29 year old man from Devon, stole 400 billion virtual poker chips on the Facebook app which works out at around £7 milion in real money. Mitchell hacked into Zynga’s mainframe and stole the identity of 2 employees. The severity of the case went to the Crown Court and Zynga estimated a loss of $12 million, because of Mitchell’s actions.

It became apparent that the criminal was using his ill gotten gains to fuel his online gambling addiction, as well as buy some expensive luxurys which include a Rolex watch. Mitchell was selling the chips he stole back to customers and made a reported £53,612 in two months after selling about a third of the chips. It was only until August 2009 that Zynga became aware large amount of chips were going missing.

Zynga suspected it was the two employees who Mitchell impersonated, but then they realised their system has been hacked. It was not long before the search was narrowed down to the thief’s town and that he was using his neighbour’s unsecured Wi-fi connection to commit the crimes. The innocent neighbour’s computers were seized and Mitchell was caught when he used his own Facebook profile when attempting to hack Zynga again.

Defenders of Mitchell pointed out that it was impossible to quantify the amount Zynga had lost as the chips were virtual and the company could also create as many as it wants. However a judge ruled that Mr. Mitchell had deprived Zynga of earnings and that it was done systematically using expertise. What do you make of the 2 year sentence, is it harch considering virtual property was stolen? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

  • MR MISCHEIF sic

    How can you be a journalist, and have a spellcheck, go through the editing process, yet still repeatedly mis-spell 'thief'?
    The world gets a bit dumber every day…