FIFA Hackers Steal $16 Million from EA
A hacker has been convicted of embezzling $16 million from gaming bigwig Electronic Arts, using “FIFA coins,” an in-game virtual currency for a soccer-themed video game.
Anthony Clark, 24, of Whittier, Calif., was convicted of wire fraud by a jury sitting in Fort Worth, Texas. Clark and three co-conspirators gamed the game, as it were. You see, in the FIFA Football game, players can earn FIFA coins based on the time they spend playing. People like soccer, and due to the popularity of FIFA Football, a secondary market has developed whereby FIFA coins can be exchanged for US currency.
Clark and his buddies managed the ultimate hat trick: They circumvented multiple security mechanisms created by EA in order to fraudulently obtain FIFA coins worth over $16 million. Specifically, the group created software that fraudulently logged thousands of FIFA Football matches within a matter of seconds, and as a result, EA computers credited them with improperly earned FIFA coins. They then subsequently exchanged their FIFA coins on the secondary market for over $16 million.
Co-conspirators Nick Castellucci, 24, of N.J.; Ricky Miller, 24, of Arlington, Texas; and Eaton Zveare, 24, of Lancaster, Va., previously pleaded guilty and they await sentencing.
Interesting, the issue with FIFA coins in not new. In 2014, a member of an international hacking ring responsible for stealing between $100 and $200 million in intellectual property and other proprietary data from Microsoft’s Xbox gaming platform developed a software exploit that did something similar to what Clark and crew accomplished. The exploit generated millions in in-game, virtual currency for Electronic Arts’ FIFA line of soccer games, which he then sold in bulk quantities on the black market.
That same ring was also accused of stealing a pre-release version of Epic’s video game, Gears of War 3; and a pre-release version of Activision’s uber-popular video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Gaming is a high-profile target given the billions that the industry rakes in every year.
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Source: Information Security Magazine