British Hacker Faces Jail After £7.5 Million Heist

A hacker has admitted to hacking into virtual gambling servers and making off with billions of gambling chips

A 29 year old man from Paignton, Devon, is facing a potential prison sentence after he admitted to hacking into the servers of American gaming company Zynga Corporation and making off with $12 million (£7.5 million) worth of gambling chips.

According to the ‘This is South Devon’ website, Ashley Mitchell pleaded guilty to five hacking charges in Exeter Crown Court, including accessing the servers belonging to the Zynga. He also asked for 41 other offences to be taken into consideration.

Judge Philip Wassall said Mitchell faced a substantial jail term for the ‘sophisticated’ offences, and Mitchell was remanded in custody after the judge adjourned the case for reports.

Discounted Chips

According to some news reports, Mitchell was able to get access by posing as one of Zynga’s website administrators. He was then able to transfer 400 billion gaming chips into a number of Facebook accounts, said to be worth $12 million if Zynga had issued them legitimately.

Mitchell reportedly sold a batch (thought to be a third) of the stolen chips for £53,000. If he managed to sell the rest of them at that discounted rate, Mitchell stood to make around £184,000.

“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 per billion,” prosecutor Gareth Evans was quoted as saying by the ‘This is South Devon’ website.

“By my reckoning the total value if sold on the black market of the 400 billion was in the region of £184,000.”

Gambling Addict

And it seems that this is not the first time that Mitchell has been caught hacking. These latest offences have put Mitchell in breach of a suspended sentence imposed in 2008.

Back then, Mitchell was convicted of hacking into the Torbay Council website and changing his personal details. He benefited to the tune of £3,498 and was given a 40-week suspended sentence by the court.

Defence solicitor Ben Derby said the crimes had been committed at a time when Mitchell was ‘wrestling with a gambling addition’ and had spent £3,000 on online games.

Hackers and fraudsters are increasingly turning to other online data sources in order to gain money, partly because of the increasing difficulties of making money from stolen credit cards.

Last year data security specialist Imperva revealed that Twitter credentials were changing hands for up to $1,000 (£628), owing to the revenue generation that is possible from a Web 2.0 services account.