Published in Gaming

Runescape hacker escapes jail

by on10 December 2013

Flogged imaginary toys that really were imaginary

A hacker who broke into the accounts of online gamers and sold their virtual property for £3,000 to pay off his real life debts has escaped going to prison. For 16 months the broke Steven Burrell, 21 hacked into profiles on Runescape.

He sold people's virtual items, such as potions, weapons and cooking equipment, on auction sites and forums to raise between £2,500 and £3,000. The game's developer Jagex spent 1,000 man hours addressing customer complaints. Burrell admitted two charges relating to unauthorised computer access.

Prosecutor Russell Tyner said Burrell also hoped to "gain kudos" through his online thefts. Burrell had been cautioned in July 2012 by Yorkshire Police in relation to compromising a Facebook account of a Jagex employee. Defending Burrell, Stuart Jeffery said his client used the fantasy world to try and deal with problems in the real world.

"It is clear he did not consider the long-term consequences because that world was not real."

District Judge Tim Daber sentenced Burrell, from Northamtpon, to a 12-month community order with supervision and 150 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £100 costs and told to forfeit his two computers.

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