A group of hackers is in very deep trouble after they used Electronic Arts title FIFA in order to steal millions of dollars from the company, according to a statement from the FBI. Anthony Clark and three other hackers will be going on trial on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to the investigation by the FBI, Clark and his compatriots stole up to 18 million dollars from Electronic Arts by mining FIFA coins (the in-game currency of the FIFA games) from the EA servers, then transferring them to “black market” dealers in Europe and China to sell to other gamers.
FIFA coins are already a target of third-party sellers in many areas, but it’s likely that those third-party sellers actually have the common decency to earn those coins themselves; there’s even a subreddit on Reddit dedicated to the buying and selling of these coins.
Clark and his group of hackers apparently were able to commit the theft by writing a program that spoofed played matches to the EA servers (normally FIFA coins are earned via soccer matches or by buying them through real money), allowing them to get a great deal of coins without having to play the game at all. The sales from these “earned” coins earned each hacker several million dollars each.
Clark and the rest of his group of hackers are apparently part of a loose collection of hackers known as “Xbox Underground”, a group previously convicted back in 2014 of stealing software from Valve and Microsoft and other companies. According to the FBI report, Clark and his group were ratted out by Austin Alcala, another member of Underground that had previously helped Clark and his group be able to mine the coins in such numbers.
Clark and his accomplices will be going on trial in Fort Worth in Texas today.