Online poker chip thief from Devon jailed

A man from Devon who hacked into internet gaming websites and stole millions of dollars-worth of online poker chips has been jailed.

Ashley Mitchell siphoned off 400bn electronic credits from a US company running gaming "apps" played through Facebook, Exeter Crown Court heard.

He took chips worth about $12m (£7.4m) and sold a third of them for £53,000.

Mitchell, 29, of Paignton, was jailed for two years after admitting five charges of hacking and theft.

Stiff sentence 'expected'

Mitchell used false Facebook accounts and a front company to attempt to sell the chips - from websites belonging to the Zynga Corporation - to other players for a fraction of their face value.

The court was told that Mitchell, who had a young family, had been suffering with a gambling addiction at the time of the offences in 2009.

Defending Mitchell, Ben Darby said that at one point he was spending £1,000 a day on gambling websites.

Sentencing, Judge Philip Wassall said that Mitchell had deliberately "exploited" security weaknesses he had found in Zynga's website.

"People rely on computer systems," he said.

"Anyone who has managed to get into these systems for their own ends should expect a stiff sentence."

As well as the hacking and taking private property charges, Mitchell asked for another 41 offences to be taken into consideration.

He was also sentenced to an extra 30 weeks for breaching a 40-week suspended sentence imposed in 2008 for hacking.

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