In early February we caught wind of a man in the U.K. who had pled guilty to hacking into Zynga's electronic systems and stealing 400 billion play-money poker chips!
That man, Ashley Mitchell, has now been sentenced and will receive two years in jail for the online crime. Is the theft of play-money chips worthy of a few years in the slammer? Zynga maintains that since the play-money chips are sold for real cash, Mitchell actually stole the equivalent of $12 million!
Mitchell was able to fence a portion of the stolen e-booty for £53,000, and would have made an estimated total of £184,000 had he succeeded in off-loading the rest at the same rate.
This begs the real question, who on God's green earth is paying tens of thousands of pounds for play-money chips on a Facebook based poker site? Is lording your super-stack over your Facebook friends really worth the outlay of cash?
Wouldn't it be more fun to spend the money on, say, real poker chips at a casino?
As it turns out this wasn't Mitchell's first foray into the world of electronic crime. He'd received a 40-week suspended sentence in 2008 for hacking into a municipal government website and changing his personal details, benefiting himself £3,498.
Mitchell was also juggling a gambling addiction with his propensity for law-breaking, according to his lawyer, and was dropping £1,000 a day through online gambling sites. Mitchell cited this as a factor in his motivation to commit the fraud.
Mitchell's in for a sad surprise when he gets to prison. They don't use play-money chips to keep track.