Earlier in February Ashley Mitchell was caught stealing 400 billion poker chips from the popular Facebook game Zynga Poker. At the time of his arrest, the was some uncertainty about the severity of his crime, as digital currency carries no real value, but Mitchell has now been informed that he will be facing lengthy sentence for his crime.
Mitchell hacked into Zynga Poker and proceeded to steal 400 billion chips from its servers. He began selling the chips on eBay in batches of 1 billion for about $600. The BBC estimated the real-life value of the chips was somewhere around $12 million, but Mitchell only made just over $100 000 before being caught by the authorities.
This week, Mitchell pleaded guilty to the crime. His criminal behaviour was in violation of the Computer Misuse Act as well as the Proceeds from Crime Act, meaning Mitchell’s charges are more serious than he probably could have imagined. He had also faced jail time previously for hacking his former employer.
Based on these charges, the judge stated that Mitchell will face a severe sentence. The case is likely to set precedent for crimes that involve digital currency. Up until now, there hasn’t been a serious enough case of digital theft, and Mitchell will have an example made out of him to discourage this type of crime by others.