Hacker Steals Virtual Billions From Zynga

Loonerinoes

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Apr 9, 2009
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Mitchell recently appeared in court where a prosecutor said that in theory his theft was no different from a criminal stealing paper money from a government Mint, even though it was a virtual crime.
Oh for the love of...NO! Stealing virtual gaming world money is NOT the same as stealing actual money from the mint. I swear...sometimes the hyperbole the lawyers lay out really can be thick as hell, unless of course they want to equate Zynga to the freaking FED now.

But yes, there was a crime obviously because he profited actual money from someone elses' creation by distributing their currency (the poker chips) to others for actual cash. Hence I guess he knows that much since he pleaded guilty.

Still, for the love of god...get off your high horses already. I swear, the minute someone mentions the word ***MONEY*** people start treating themselves like they're the king of the Earth. Sure it's important, but keep some perspective about what kind of money it is that you distribute. Though I suppose Zynga frequently charging its customers actual money for its ingame currencies and products I shouldn't be surprised their lawyers would also get confused on this issue.
 

joshuaayt

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Nov 15, 2009
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Huh. Zynga's really putting this guy... *glasses* ...On the poker
YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAA­AAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

...You know, like fireplace... poker, which gets... It's really hot, OK?

Anyway, I don't care that he "stole" virtual money, but he probably did divert funds from these guys by selling it. Plus, he obviously turned a considerable profit- and got caught, the eejit- so I support punishment, as long as they don't try to get him to pay the standard five hundred million billion like these companies tend to aim for.
"Oh, sure, I'll just write you a diamond cheque".
 

DanDeFool

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Aug 19, 2009
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Tom Goldman said:
I find myself wondering exactly how Mitchell stole the chips, because according to reports it seems that he literally hacked into a server and removed them, but I would think Zynga generates virtual currency when a person buys it, attaching it to an account, and doesn't have servers that are simply holding billions in virtual chips, dollars, and coins. It's a little confusing, but the fact remains that Mitchell somehow found a way to award others with the chips.
He probably just took control of that system for a while, assigning a bunch of chips to an account (or accounts) with stolen administrative privileges.

That said, Zynga is just running a business, and they have every right to go after this guy. Even if they make products that are an otherworldly mixture of stupid and evil, and their CEO is kind of a douche, doesn't mean people can steal from them.

And of course, I use the term "steal" loosely.
 

Valanthe

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Sep 24, 2009
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Riobux said:
Some would argue this is just a thief stealing from a thief.
And I would agree with that sentiment, however, as any lawyer, judge, or jury worth their salt would note, theft is theft, and it doesn't matter whether you're stealing from Mussolini or Ghandi.

Hmm, does mentioning that other Fascist Dictator still fall under the realm of Godwin's law?
 

C2Ultima

Future sovereign of Oz
Nov 6, 2010
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Well, Zynga doesn't deserve any of the money it has, but that doesn't justify stealing from them.
 

Nateman742

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Jul 21, 2009
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Riobux said:
Some would argue this is just a thief stealing from a thief.
Yeah, and one of them had a better lawyer. Nevertheless, Mitchell sealed his fate when he made 50 grand off of it. That's just bad judgment.

It looks like Mitchell... Really got zinged. YEEEAAAAAAHHHHHH!
 

SenseOfTumour

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Jul 11, 2008
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Putting Zynga aside, isn't this just a virtual version of sidling up to a blackjack table in a casino, stealing a bunch of chips from the dealer, and then going off and cashing out.

To me, if you pay for the chips in Zynga Poker, they're a form of currency with value, and therefore essentially equal to their value to purchase.

After all, although there is SOME cost in producing poker chips, a £100 chip is in no way worth $100 unless it's being used at that casino's table.

I'm all for virtual theft and fraud being criminalised, so long as it doesn't descend into 'The rogue ninja'd the gloves at the end of Deadmines! I'm calling my mom's lawyer!"

I say this, because whatever you think of MMO players or players of other virtual games - hacking their account is effectively stealing the hours they took to create something.

I'd still like to see the guy who stole my bag containing my SNES and games punished, and punished more for taking away the 80+ hour save I had on my FF3/6 cartridge. He not only stole my only games console, but all the happy memories of that game. I never did finish it, and no I don't want spoilers.
 

Exort

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Oct 11, 2010
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Kross said:
Maybe his username was ';UPDATE players SET chips=-1 WHERE uid=MAX(uid)--'
I really don't expect anyone to forgot the underflow bug.
Maybe Zynga cheap out on programers.
 

SenseOfTumour

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Jul 11, 2008
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On a side note, Blizzard's always been very careful about not allowing gambling into WOW, as government legal types just can't wait to say ' Gold can be bought with real money, therefore you're gambling with currency bought with dollars, therefore you're a casino, therefore we get to tax you. '

I wonder what the legal rulings are on this? I'd assume Zynga's paying tax on all transactions...

If this guy skipped out on a tax bill during this it's going to get worse I'd say :D
 

Unspeakable

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Apr 10, 2009
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Using the same logic of the WoW comparison...

How different is this from selling virtual GP in an MMORPG, or loot for that matter?

Your first reaction might be "Because there is real potential money that Zynga could have made from gameplay and transactions." But some games offer microtransactions that trade real money for GP, or loot, or whatever.

Your second reaction might be "It was the method he obtained the Zynga chips in, it would be like using a bot in an MMORPG to farm stuff, and that sort of thing is against the user terms of service."

Fine to that second point, but then don't you usually just get banned from the game? Could WoW or whoever make a case for putting bot users that auto-farm into real legal trouble and real prison for monetary losses they somehow construe they suffered because what should have taken a dozen people a month to do only took a day?
 

Hucket

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Apr 29, 2010
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My favourite part, other than someone being charged with steal virtual money that has no actual street value other than to pathetic gamblers, is that the report says he "somehow found his way into game's system". To me they make it sound like he was looking for a bathroom and somehow found his way into a bank vault.

This rediculous. Sure charge him with hacking or whatever the charge is called but for stealing VIRTUAL money. It's like stealing Canadian Tire money (sry for those of you outside Canada, its the closest comparison I could think of). Sure it has a value, but nobody really cares about it. Know if they had stole 400 billion in Canadian tire money, that might cause astir, but of more interest than ire. Block him from all Zynga games and let him face his actual charges
 

felixader

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Feb 24, 2008
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AngelOfBlueRoses said:
felixader said:
The sad thing here is some of the honest working people of this world can barely get enough real money together to feed their family or even just themselves.

Meanwhile a thieve steals digital, NOT real, GAMEdata and makes nearly 90.000 Dollars with it.
So true, except, you know, he's going to court now and is probably going to end up in jail and never actually be able to use the money that he "made."

Can't believe I'm on Zynga's side! Crazy.
Yeah but he doesn't exactly have to "work" there for his food.
 

AngelOfBlueRoses

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Nov 5, 2008
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felixader said:
AngelOfBlueRoses said:
felixader said:
The sad thing here is some of the honest working people of this world can barely get enough real money together to feed their family or even just themselves.

Meanwhile a thieve steals digital, NOT real, GAMEdata and makes nearly 90.000 Dollars with it.
So true, except, you know, he's going to court now and is probably going to end up in jail and never actually be able to use the money that he "made."

Can't believe I'm on Zynga's side! Crazy.
Yeah but he doesn't exactly have to "work" there for his food.
So, you're arguing that prisons would be a better place for them?
 

felixader

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Feb 24, 2008
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AngelOfBlueRoses said:
felixader said:
AngelOfBlueRoses said:
felixader said:
The sad thing here is some of the honest working people of this world can barely get enough real money together to feed their family or even just themselves.

Meanwhile a thieve steals digital, NOT real, GAMEdata and makes nearly 90.000 Dollars with it.
So true, except, you know, he's going to court now and is probably going to end up in jail and never actually be able to use the money that he "made."

Can't believe I'm on Zynga's side! Crazy.
Yeah but he doesn't exactly have to "work" there for his food.

So, you're arguing that prisons would be a better place for them?
No, of course not.

I just want to point out that the world's unfair. ^.^ :p

Add: I also wanna point out that that captcha thing is getting on my nerves. ^.^
 

luckycharms8282

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Mar 28, 2009
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He definitely made some money off of that. Im sure his sentence won't be more than a few months, if that. It is kind of a mindfreak if you think about it.

He stole virtual property.
But that property is virtual so it doesnt actually exist.
If it doesnt exist then he hadn't actually stolen anything.
Yet it's a crime so he still broke the law.
And you can go on and on.