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Online Poker Chip Thief Gets Two Years In Jail

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the know-when-to-fold-em dept.

Crime 63

jhernik writes "A 29-year-old gambler from Paignton, Devon, has been sentenced to two years in jail after hacking into an online gambling site and stealing billions of poker chips. Ashley Mitchell admitted to hacking into the servers of American gaming company Zynga Corporation in 2009 and making off with $12 million (£7.5 million) worth of gambling chips."

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Looks like he gambled his future. (4, Funny)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569520)

And they'll be filling his 'slot' in prison. At least there'll be plenty of tables to play. If he plays his cards right, he'll probably get a shortened sentence. Maybe he can roll the dice and get in with a gang that will protect him.

Hopefully he'll be well behaved and won't end up in the pit.

Re:Looks like he gambled his future. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35576500)

HA HA RAPE IS FUNNY! Especially when it's used as a deliberate instrument of punishment by agents of the state!

Re:Looks like he gambled his future. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35581316)

More likely it is used by other fellow convicts.

Why 12 Million?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35569526)

I would have just stolen a lot less.

Re:Why 12 Million?! (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570904)

I would have just stolen a lot less.

That's one of the problems with greed ... when you're greedy you can never be greedy enough.

Re:Why 12 Million?! (2)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35573056)

That seems to be a constant with stories we hear about people trying to cheat the system.

There was a great series on TV called "breaking vegas" (not the documentary on the MIT blackjack team, but a series based off it) and this was a constant element. You may have a fool proof system, but even atop a pile of gold, if you steal millions, someone is going to notice.

Kind of makes you wonder how many (if any) smart criminals there are out there, stealing enough to live happily, but not enough to get noticed. When we look at a lot of these systems people come up with, if they just took it easy they'd probably go un-noticed for years. I like to think there are a few out there with the cleverness and greed to come up with something, but the rationality to restrain themselves.

Very misleading title (2)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569602)

I literally laughed out loud when I read the bit about "Zynga" and "worth 12 million".

Just because they are trying to sell them for 12 million doesn't make them worth that.

Re:Very misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35569692)

well, they aren't "trying" to sell them for 12 million, they are actually selling them for that money... (and many many more)

Re:Very misleading title (1)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569924)

The key difference here is that the "12 million" that he took is not a 12 million that they did not earn because of what he took.

Re:Very misleading title (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570202)

you make a good point. the zynga people are, in practice, printing money. the difference is that they built an "infrastructure" where people have fun after they give zynga real money. this guy did not have a contribution to the infrastructure, but he was still taking real money from the people having fun (or planning on doing it).
I can't honestly say who is the bad guy here. to put it bluntly, I can't say if either of them has a hint of "good guy" in them.

Re:Very misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35570488)

By your logic, anytime someone makes anything that someone else values it's "printing money" and they're a bad person for doing it.

Re:Very misleading title (0)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570718)

It's not the same as manufacturing. Effort to create the chips (virtual currency) was made once - and that developer got paid long ago. This guy was sentenced for taking copies of an intangible item.

At most, this disturbed their accountant who noticed that the system had $12 million in chip distributions but no matching bank transactions. I'd bet they're planning on writing it off their taxes as a loss, along with the attorney fees and the cost for a developer to secure their system.

Re:Very misleading title (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35574338)

It's not the same as manufacturing. Effort to create the chips (virtual currency) was made once - and that developer got paid long ago. This guy was sentenced for taking copies of an intangible item.

So if I hack into a bank and change the database to report that I have a million dollars in my account, are you saying that because this as an intangible electronic change that nothing illegal was done until I try and convert that into physical cash?

Re:Very misleading title (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577730)

I see where your error is. Someone should've explained to you that the word intangible [reference.com] is the exact opposite of the word physical [reference.com] .

Certainly, the banks (fractional reserve banking [wikipedia.org] ) and government have the ability to print more money, but there are costs involved. Not only the cost of the paper and ink and presses, but the value lost in the rest of the currency in circulation (inflation [wikipedia.org] ).

Re:Very misleading title (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35584852)

I see where your error is. Someone should've explained to you that the word intangible is the exact opposite of the word physical

Do you actually think that when your employer deposits money into your account of when you pay a bill from your account online that there is actual physical money being moved from one location to another? Hate to break it to you but those days are long over and it's all electronic now.

Re:Very misleading title (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589930)

You should try to put down your bong without spilling it and read my entire reply.

Re:Very misleading title (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35590314)

I read it and it doesn't apply. Banks don't have the right to print money, and no one needs to print money to cover an electronic transaction. It just shows your ignorance of the topic you are responding to.

Re:Very misleading title (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35594778)

Here's a little interview Ben Bernanke gave to 60 minutes where he discloses that they're printing money to monetize debt. The point where he admits printing money is around 8:20. And he's talking about doing it electronically.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odPfHY4ekHA [youtube.com]

Enjoy

Re:Very misleading title (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35598170)

Ben Bernanke is chair of the federal reserve - a government entity. It's not a bank that anyone can just go to. You're confusing banking system with bank.

Re:Very misleading title (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 2 years ago | (#35601388)

federal reserve - a government entity

The US Court of Appeals has a different opinion.

Lewis v. United States, 680 F.2d 1239
From the decision:

The district court dismissed, holding that the Federal Reserve Bank is not a federal agency within the meaning of the Act and that the court therefore lacked subject matter jurisdiction. We affirm. ...
Each Federal Reserve Bank is a separate corporation owned by commercial banks in its region.

I can see that you're not interested in visiting my universe, where things aren't black and white. Maybe you'd be interested in Ann Coulters universe, where radiation is good for you.

Re:Very misleading title (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605180)

For crying out loud - why dont you go down to your local bank and ask for a tour of their money printing facilities. Let me know when they start laughing at you.

Re:Very misleading title (4, Insightful)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35571652)

He did deprive Zenga of about 60k of dollars/pounds by selling their 'currency' to their clients without them making that money. It's like stealing amusement park tokens and selling them to people before they enter the gate, sure the amusement park can just get more paper coupons and sell them off but now that their patronage has been saturated fewer people will buy once inside the park.

Re:Very misleading title (2)

An Anonymous Coward (236011) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569786)

Social Game Maker Zynga’s Market Valuation Tops $5.5B
http://www.cnbc.com/id/39869254/Social_Game_Maker_Zynga_s_Market_Valuation_Tops_5_5B [cnbc.com]

Who's laughing now?

Re:Very misleading title (1)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35571270)

Woosh. The *virtual poker chips* have no value. You can't cash them out.

Re:Very misleading title (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35571992)

I'm not an expert, but the article says they could be "sold legitimately through Zynga" for $12 million.

Re:Very misleading title (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35572856)

Zynga can sell them to you through Zynga. You can't sell them through Zynga.

Re:Very misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35574516)

Is that what Zathras says?

Punishment should match the crime.... (3, Insightful)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569614)

Throw him in the worst virtual jail there is !! :\

Re:Punishment should match the crime.... (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569628)

I'm sure something can be arranged in Second Life...

Re:Punishment should match the crime.... (3, Funny)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569642)

Gang raped by furries ?

Re:Punishment should match the crime.... (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569676)

he might like it.

Re:Punishment should match the crime.... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569652)

Yeah really! Make him use AOL.. on dial up.. at 14.4

Incredible.. we have gone completely bonkers

Re:Punishment should match the crime.... (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 3 years ago | (#35594288)

You whippersnappers.. Some of us used 300 baud modems (not with AOL).

Regulate both sides please (3, Insightful)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569690)

That's great that he is getting punished for the theft. Poker chips have a real value on the sites that are employing them. But what about those poker sites that ban accounts and refuse to pay their owner for vague or no reasons at all? Lots of people have had their money stolen for suspected collusion or for playing in a pattern similar to a poker bot.

Re:Regulate both sides please (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570888)

Actually, Zynga pays out $0 no matter how many chips you have. These are the makers of Farmville we're talking about. Just like you can buy cows from them with real money and can't sell them back more cows for more money, you can buy poker chips from them with real money and can't sell them back more chips for more money.

Why do people buy play money chips? I don't know, why do people buy virtual cows? (OK, I do know the answer: e-peen)

Really stupid (2)

gweihir (88907) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569706)

As if they would not notice. This is a "currency" they
control. While the guy seems to have been at least somewhat capable for
being able to hack, I can see the risk analysis on the other side: "We can
track those in detail anyways, so if so somebody steals them, we will easily
identify the thief. No need to secure this better." I mean, how stupid can
you get? Obviously a person that cannot generalize or apply his intellect to
something not in his narrow vision.

In addition, he has a previous (suspended) sentence of 30 weeks for hacking.
Obviously also unable to learn.

When a former school-mate that is now a
police detective told me that they do not catch the really smart perpetrators, but
that there were plenty of dumb ones around of any level of intelligence, I
first did not believe him. By now I do. This is just one more data point.

Re:Really stupid (1)

redcaboodle (622288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570226)

When a former school-mate that is now a police detective told me that they do not catch the really smart perpetrators, but that there were plenty of dumb ones around of any level of intelligence, I first did not believe him. By now I do. This is just one more data point.

To put it in a way that is easier to understand: Int: 18, Wis: dump stat.

Re:Really stupid (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 3 years ago | (#35571570)

Indeed. I like to use the int/wisdom analogy myself.

53 minutes ago . like . share (1)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569830)

you and 1337 others like this

He dumped the chips on his desktop into a folder.. (3, Insightful)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569884)

I keep dreaming of a day when things like this will not be described at a grade 6 reading level. (Full blame on TFA in this case.)
- Chips were not stolen. A number in a database was forged.
- He did not "make off" with anything. Probably didn't leave his chair.

I like Tron and Ocean's Eleven too, but using these metaphors for real crime is just as goofy.

Re:He dumped the chips on his desktop into a folde (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570114)

I am reminded of how the fractional reserve system works:

A and B have balances of $0.

A deposits $10.

A has a balance of $10; B has a balance of $0.

B asks for a loan of $5; bank "uses" A's money.

A has a balance of $10; B has a balance of $5.

The house always wins.

Re:He dumped the chips on his desktop into a folde (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35570710)

Technically B has a debt of $5, not a balance. B has a debt of $5, the bank has a debt of $5 and a has an account of $10. No money is missing in this scenario.

Re:He dumped the chips on his desktop into a folde (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35571030)

Who is the creditor for the bank's debt of $5?

Re:He dumped the chips on his desktop into a folde (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35571810)

Good call. I guess it would be ummm.... Wait for it... The Bank??

Re:He dumped the chips on his desktop into a folde (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35572748)

Didn't you ever wonder why the bank pays interest on savings accounts and CDs and such? It's because they're paying you to use your money for loans.

Re:He dumped the chips on his desktop into a folde (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35572978)

Savings are only "used" in the sense that your money is duplicated, so what could be taken out by one person can now be taken out by two. Regulation stops an infinite amount of credit being created.

Zynga chips (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35569978)

What, are those zynga chips worth actual money? As far as I remember you got them for free all the time, removing the point of the whole game.

Re:Zynga chips (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570730)

Just because something can be gifted, it doesn't mean that the thing has no value. If I get money in a birthday card as a "free gift", it doesn't suddenly negate the point of working to earn money, although in this case it's probably got more in common with a crack dealer giving out free samples to get people hooked...

In other news... (2)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570034)

...the CFO of Parker Brothers was convicted of felony embezzlement when he tried to make off with 12 million pink Monopoly dollars.

Funny how my story sounds ridiculous yet 21st-Century funny money is a "crime".

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35570476)

That funny money however can be converted to real cash, monopoly money not so much....

Re:In other news... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570712)

I'd be willing to pay a couple of bucks for 12 million pink Monopoly dollars.

Re:In other news... (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570972)

I'd be willing to pay a couple of bucks for 12 million pink Monopoly dollars.

OK, then this guy stole the equivalent of $2 * $12 million = $24 trillion pink Monopoly dollars.

Re:In other news... (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35571848)

Math is hard eh?

Re:In other news... (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35572196)

Yup :-/

72 trillion

Re:In other news... (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570878)

Besides, even if monopoly money has little real world value, stealing 12 million of them from the company would be a removal of company assets that would likely land you in some trouble.

He should have made it legit... (1)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570080)

By getting a business license, then he could steal like paypal and get away with it.

incredibly stupid (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570528)

if you steal cash from a bank, the cash you have stolen is anonymous (well, it usually is): that is, there's no way to tell later if it is the same cash you stole from the bank

but this guy just moved around bits on someone's server. hey frank, the ton of chips with id #445566, where'd they go? hey jack, maybe its this guy here, with a ton of chips with id #445566?

i mean seriously: you're smart enough to hack a server, but not smart enough to play that scenario out?
 

Re:incredibly stupid (1)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35570630)

I know a guy that hacked into a bank and stole real money from someone's account and transferred it into HIS OWN PERSONAL BANK ACCOUNT.

"Stupid is as stupid does" - Forest Gump

Zzzzzzzzz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35571018)

Thief gets caught, goes to jail. There - fixed that for you.

Wow, I mean, wow. Trying to fit this into "news", "matters", "nerds", ......, nope, sorry, can't do it.

Re:Zzzzzzzzz (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35571540)

Thief gets caught, goes to jail. There - fixed that for you.

Wow, I mean, wow. Trying to fit this into "news", "matters", "nerds", ......, nope, sorry, can't do it.

Just wait a while. Florian Mueller will spin it into a story about how Open Source == evil.

Dare to post this under your own ID... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35573444)

Evans admitted that valuing virtual currency can be difficult and that the company was not actually deprived of tangible goods, but he said that the theft could still affect the developer by indirectly causing legitimate online gamers to stop playing Zynga Poker or its other games."

OK, here it comes: Zynga Poker sucks! Don't play it! In fact, all Zynga games suck!

Ah-oh... now I could [...] affect the developer by indirectly causing legitimate online gamers to stop playing Zynga Poker or its other games!

The house always wins... (1)

Shisouka (1424151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578446)

The house always wins...

HO-HO... (1)

sweet_sun (2024092) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583820)

Many people try to earn quickly and easily, and preferably 5 minutes to become a millionaire. Here and there were no exceptions. Unfortunately the offense has been solved. But on the other hand, it gives a thoughtful, not all so easy. Need to work hard and honestly to earn. Even in this case, it will bring much more fun than lost years in prison.
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