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Hacker sentenced for laundering £7 million in virtual chips

Two years at Her Majesty's pleasure
Mon Mar 21 2011, 12:10

A BRITISH HACKER has been sentenced to two years' porridge for pilfering £7 million worth of virtual poker chips.

Ashley Mitchell might consider himself a top quality hacker but his chips were down after he got well and truly caught. The INQUIRER reported in February that Mitchell had pleaded guilty but his sentence was just handed down at Exeter crown court.

It turns out that virtual chips are just as easy, if not easier to trace than real ones, as the hacker left an online trace when he netted £53,612 by selling discounted chips on the social notworking website Facebook.

He had hacked into the online gaming website Zygna, stolen the identities of two of its staff and snarfed up 400 billion virtual chips. He later posed as an administrator of its poker games on Facebook. According to the Guardian, Mitchell managed to sell some of the virtual chips and Zygna's investigators put the gaming company's potential losses at £7 million, assuming that Mitchell would have gone on to sell all the chips.

Mitchell's defence team said the losses weren't quantifiable because Zygna could simply conjure up new virtual chips out of thin air. That obviously didn't go down too well with Judge Philip Wassall.

Judge Wassall handed Mitchell a two year prison sentence for computer misuse and four counts of money laundering. The hacker also received a 30 week sentence for breaching an earlier suspended sentence. In 2008 Mitchell had hacked into the network of his previous employer, Torbay council.

"The sentence has to reflect the impact on public confidence in security systems and online business when someone breaches security in this way," said Judge Wassall. µ


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