A British court has sentenced Ashley Mitchell to two years in prison for hacking into Zygna’s poker application after which he stole some 400 billion chips. Zygna is a Facebook application where users play poker with chips that have no direct value. Mitchell found some value in the 400 billion he stole, however. He sold close to a third of the chips on eBay for $85,000. Zygna allows players to purchase chips for use at their virtual tables. The company said the price tag for buying 400 billion chips in a legitimate manner would have been $12 million.
Mitchell, a 29 year old IT expert, pled guilty to charges of converting criminal property and violating the Computer Misuse Act. His attorney informed the court that his crimes stemmed from a gambling addiction. The judge in the case wasn’t buying it. During sentencing, he said, “People rely on computer systems. Anyone who has managed to get into these systems for their own ends should expect a stiff sentence.”
Although Zygna has no real-money poker tables, their 38 million users technically means they have the largest pool of poker players than any single site. They are the only authorized seller of Zygna poker chips meaning discount markets and eBay auctions like the one Mitchell used to distribute his stolen chips are illegal.