Arlington

Man convicted in Fort Worth for stealing $16 million in virtual coins

Feb. 25, 2008 file photo, showing the exterior view of Electronic Arts headquarters in Redwood City, Calif. Federal prosecutors have convicted four men accused of defrauding EA of more thann $16 million.
Feb. 25, 2008 file photo, showing the exterior view of Electronic Arts headquarters in Redwood City, Calif. Federal prosecutors have convicted four men accused of defrauding EA of more thann $16 million. AP

First came new forms of money. Crooks determined to steal it soon followed.

But those crooks were soon visited by agents with the FBI and IRS.

A federal jury in Fort Worth has convicted a fourth man in a scheme to defraud software company and electronic game creator Electronic Arts of virtual currency valued at more than $16 million.

Sentencing for Anthony Clark, 24, of Whittier, Calif., is set for Feb. 27. Clark was convicted of one count of wire fraud.

Clark’s three co-defendants, Ricky Miller, 24, of Arlington; Eaton Zveare, 24, of Lancaster, Va.; and Nick Castellucci, 24, of New Jersey have previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

The four devised a scheme to churn virtual soccer matches on the Electronic Arts video game FIFA Football. Players can earn “FIFA coins,” a virtual in-game currency that is collected based on the amount of time users spend playing the game.

Due to the popularity of FIFA Football, a secondary market has developed whereby FIFA coins can be exchanged for U.S. currency. Clark and his co-conspirators circumvented multiple security mechanisms created by EA to fraudulently obtain FIFA coins worth over $16 million, authorities said.

Clark and his co-conspirators created software that fraudulently logged thousands of FIFA Football matches within a matter of seconds, and as a result, EA computers credited Clark and his co-conspirators with improperly earned FIFA coins. Then Clark and his co-conspirators exchanged their FIFA coins on the secondary market for more than $16 million.

The FBI and the Internal Revenue Service investigated the case. Senior Counsel Ryan Dickey of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Poe and Candina Heath of the Northern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

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