News breaks about hacks and scams are now becoming a common thing especially if they are related to cryptocurrency.
Among scandals trending, a man named Martin Marsich, 25, was arrested for allegedly hacking into the servers of the California-based video game giant Electronic Arts (EA) Inc.
Marsich, who is a Serbian and Italian national, was arrested at the San Francisco International Airport attempting to board a flight to Serbia.
The judge presiding the case last month ordered the accused to pay his $750,000 bail using Bitcoin. But, in a turn of events, the FBI reversed the order citing liability concerns.
FBI Files an Affidavit
Marsich made his first appearance before the Bay Area Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley and was charged with the crime of illegally intruding the computer network of EA with the intention of obtaining information for private gains and commercial advantage.
It’s believed that he used developer software and a secret key to gain access to the systems and alter their databases.
According to an affidavit filed by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, EA Inc. discovered that there was an illegal breach in their internal network system which allegedly granted access to around 25,000 accounts through which customers could buy in-game items.
Furthermore, the affidavit states that Marsich was able to steal information that allowed him to get hold of in-game currency, customarily used to buy and sell in-game items.
It’s alleged that he later sold the access to the accounts on darknet markets.
The company was able to close the affected accounts and alleged that they incurred losses amounting to $324,000 as a result of the intrusion with rumours claiming it affected their FIFA franchise game as well as NBA LIVE servers.
Why Judge Ordered Bail Payment in Cryptocurrency?
Federal Judge Corley agreed to allow Marsich’s release to a halfway house after he posts a $750,000 bail.
However, it came with a twist. He was to post the bond in cryptocurrency (specifically Bitcoin) equivalent to the said amount.
What is apparent, Marsich had access to large sums of digital currencies as loot from his heist, enabling him to foot the bill.
While this seems unusual for courts to accept cryptocurrencies as payment, Assistant District Attorney Abraham Simmons said that this is not the first time digital currencies can be used to post bail.
He stated that judges could accept all sorts of assets to be used as bail if the accused cannot access cash at their disposal.
However, the incident is the highest profile case where bail is paid in cryptocurrency directly without converting it first.
FBI Rejects Crypto Payment Citing Liability Issues
Unfortunately for Marsich, the government—specifically, the FBI—reversed the court’s decision stating that it was not in a position to take the digital money.
A cryptocurrency wallet had been set up to facilitate the transfer, but the FBI cited liability issues as to why they refused to accept it as part of the bail and also as part of restitution to EA Inc.
The prosecutor of the case, assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Knight suggested that Marsich should sell cryptocurrencies worth $750,000 in a bid to raise cash for his bail, but federal authorities cited concerns that selling a significant amount of small and lightly traded coins could lead to severe fluctuations in their prices.
Alternately, due to the volatility nature of cryptocurrencies, markets experience rapid variation so the amount Marsich will need to put up will keep changing.
To avoid such issues, the defence and the prosecutors agreed that Marsich would transfer $200,000 worth of cryptocurrency to a broker to secure his bail, but it’s not clear whether the transaction took place or not.
If convicted, Marsich faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine certainly indicating his money woes seems to have just begun.
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