Fans of the popular EA FIFA franchise spend countless hours in the Ultimate Team mode working to unlock legendary players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, But some players have turned that virtual currency into Lamborghinis.
If that sounds too good to be true, the FBI says it is. Anthony Clark went on trial in Texas today for conspiracy to commit wire fraud after the FBI says he and three others teamed up as the hacking group “RANE Developments” to steal FIFA coins from EA’s server. The FBI named his accomplices as Ricky Miller, Nicholas Castellucci and Eaton Zveare; Miller pled guilty in October.
If you aren’t familiar with FIFA coins, they are a digital currency bought with real money and are used to purchase things like Ultimate Team packs in the FIFA game. They are so popular that there is an entire subreddit dedicated to them.
To give you the short version of what Clark and his accomplices allegedly did, they tricked the EA server into believing they had completed thousands of FIFA Ultimate Team matches, therefore rewarding them with FIFA coins. They then took these coins and sold them to “black market” coin dealers in places like the UK and China to the tune of $15-18 million.
According to Kotaku, the FBI seized assets from the four men in September of 2015.
In September of 2015, FBI agents seized millions of dollars in cash and property from the alleged hacking group, including several computers and Xbox 360s. The FBI also took $2,887,362 from a Bank of America account in Anthony Clark’s name and several hundred thousand dollars from accounts belonging to Miller, Zveare, and Castellucci. Also seized were several luxury cars including a Lamborghini that Miller purchased in 2014.
The trial will likely take several months, and EA hopes to recoup some of its losses in the massive scam.