How Hackers Stole and Moved Millions Using EA’s FIFA

The FBI recently reported that it has four game hackers in custody who had conspired to commit wire fraud after honing their skills over an illegal FIFA coin mining scheme.

The coin mining scheme leverages Electronic Arts FIFA Ultimate Team game mode that gives players the freedom to buy or sell player cards in their quest to building the ultimate team. By doing this, EA created an entire football marketplace that would be a mirror of what we see in real life.

This was in good faith. Some people saw opportunity in the fact that FIFA Ultimate Teams will be exchanging a good sum of money. The thing with games is it doesn’t matter whether the money is fictional or real, someone somewhere will be willing to cut corners by spending real money to get the in-game money.

hackers stole millions from Fifa 14

EA is taking the four hackers to court as they successfully stole millions of dollars from the company using this trick.

The FIFA Coins Were Destined to the European and Chinese Black Market

According to FBI, the wire fraud charge involved mining and selling tons of FIFA coins to the European and Chinese black market. Antony Clark, the mastermind behind the exploit, and his two accomplices earned between $15 and $18 million for their efforts.

FBI confiscated $3 million in Clark’s bank account and a Lamborghini one of his accomplices had purchased.

It All Began by Reverse Engineering FIFA 14

The scheme came to life when a hacker affiliate to the Xbox Underground group lay hands on a Xbox Dev Kit and used it to reverse engineer FIFA 14. The hackers used the knowledge they gathered to trick EA servers into thinking a couple of Xbox accounts were playing genuine games hence moving the coins.

Even though the hackers had lots of tweaking and editing to do, the scheme was perfect and running by the end of 2014. They could have made a clean cut and walked away hadn’t they run it for longer since FBI took notice of the scheme almost a year later before shutting down the operation on September 17, 2015.