Bellagio Thief And Zynga Thief Both Caught In The Act

Two very different kinds of poker chip thieves were caught this week. The first was an online hacker that used their considerable coding skills to swipe a whopping 400 billion virtual poker chips from Zynga’s popular Facebook Texas Hold’em game. The other thief was none other than the masked motorcyclist that stole $1.5 million in chips from a Bellagio cage last year.

The Zynga poker chip thief is a British man named Ashley Mitchell. Reports have estimated the value of his haul at anywhere from $300,000 all the up to $12 million. Mitchell started the stunt all the way back in the spring of 2009 when the game was first released. He got access to various accounts by claiming to be one of the game’s administrators. To hide his virtual bounty, Mitchell has been shuttling it around between several fictitious Facebook accounts for the last year. In the process, he’s earned approximately $86,000 from playing with the chips.

Earlier this week, Mitchell pleaded guilty to infiltrating the Zynga system and stealing the virtual chips, but he also claimed to be a gambling addict. He could face some very serious fines and a significant jail sentence. For their part, Zynga issued a statement ensuring their players that they would “pursue these issues vigorously.”

In a totally different venue, an American man named Anthony Michael Carleo was arrested for a somewhat similar crime. Many of our readers will probably remember the December 14th Bellagio robbery during which a single masked man stole $1.5 million in casino chips before driving away on his motorcycle. Carleo was arrested for that crime on Wednesday.

Unlike Mitchell, Carleo made little effort to hide the evidence of his crime. He even stayed at the Bellagio hotel following the robbery, using the chips he’d just stolen to play in its poker room. Bellagio dealers have reported that Carleo hinted at the origins of his chips several times during his high roller sessions. Where Carleo really fouled up, though, was in trying to sell his larger denomination chips on the popular TwoPlusTwo poker forum.

It turns out Carleo was contacting some of the forum’s more notable high stakes players privately in an effort to strike up a deal for his more conspicuous chips. One user by the name of provotrout passed the information along to the Las Vegas Police Department, and the rest is history. Only $900,000 of Carleo’s burgled chips have thus far been recovered, so you can bet he’ll be facing charges comparable to or greater than Mitchell’s.

Related Entries