Zynga Poker Cheat Jailed for Chip Theft

Paul Lilly

According to a report in the U.K.'s Guardian, a 29-year-old British man will spend two years behind bars for hacking Zynga and stealing 400 billion virtual gaming chips. Ashley Mitchell made off with more than $11 million in chips by muscling his way into Zynga's mainframe and stealing the identity of two employees before transferring the chips to his own account. It almost worked.

Zynga had been aware of the missing chips since August 2009, but suspected the two employees whose identities had been stolen of foul play. Investigators later discovered that the system had been hacked and traced the infiltration to Mitchell's neighbor, whom he had been piggybacking an unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

Part of where Mitchell's plan fell apart was when he tried to offload the chips on Facebook. This went on for two months, in which Mitchell netted over $86,000 by selling a portion of the chips. Mitchell also made himself easy to track by using his own Facebook profile during one of his attempts to hack into Zynga's mainframe.

Mitchell, who reportedly suffers from gambling addiction, used most of the money on online gambling sites and other sites that use real money.

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