Defendant Anthony Clark recently went on trial for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, after federal government alleged that he attempted to steal millions from EA.
Clark allegedly worked with three other hackers to mine FIFA coins from EA’s servers. Apparently his intentions were to then sell them on to ‘black market’ dealers in Europe and China.
According to the FBI, Clark and his co-defendants made between $15 and $18 million from their plan, which I’m sure would have been great for them if they hadn’t been caught.
As you probably know (or can work out from context) FIFA coins are the in-game currency of EA’ football game, and can be used to pick up player packs.
These coins can be earned in-game or simply purchased with real world cash – they also happen to be very popular on the third-party marketplace.
Clark and his merry band allegedly put together a tool that would send false signals to EA’s servers to spoof matches, allowing them to generate FIFA coins at a rapid rate.
The FBI alleges that Clark and his chums then successfully shifted the coins on to third-party sellers, earning millions. This plan apparently originated in 2013, and continued to September 17, 2015 when the FBI stepped in.
The FBI names Clark’s alleged co-conspirators as Ricky Miller, Nicholas Castellucci, and Eaton Zveare, alleging that all four men are part of a hacker group known as RANE Developments. Miller pled guilty in October of this year.
The FBI began seizing property from the group in September 2015, picking up millions of dollars in cash, several computers, gaming consoles, and a few fancy cars.
In addition, The FBI took nearly $3 million from a Bank of America account in Anthony Clark’s name.
The group is said to have connections with Xbox Underground, a collective of hackers who were charged in 2014 of stealing software from companies – including Valve and Microsoft.
Austin Alcala of Xbox Underground apparently worked with FBI on this case. He told agents that he’d helped the defendants get hold of Xbox development kits, as well as aiding them to reverse-engineer a pirated copy of FIFA 14 – a process that took ‘months’.
Alcala named Anthony Clark as the one who had been ‘calling the shots’ in the group. If convicted, the defendants could face up to 20 years in federal prison.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.