This Chinese gang got arrested for stealing ... inside World of Warcraft

Contributed by
Dec 30, 2013, 11:20 AM EST

Just because something you stole doesn't actually exist doesn't mean you won't go to jail all the same.

Your granddad might not be able to understand it, but digital accounts, items, gold and whatever else you can think of often carry with them an actual, real-life value. In fact, if you were hanging in the right circles, you may have known a number of gold farmers or people who leveled up characters on World of Warcraft and sold them at a real premium. There was a time when that was enough to sustain a living, in a way.

And while those times may have gone for the most part in the western world, in places like Korea and China there's still a lot of money to be made in the not-really-there World of Warcraft.

But not everyone makes their money online the honest way. In the case of one Chinese gang, there was an opportunity to do it the lazy and, it turns out, illegal way. On the black market, they bought the login info for a number of other peoples' accounts, took all their gold and items, and then sold it online.

Sound like a waste of time? Well, it wouldn't have been if they'd gotten away with it. The effort had garnered them $10,800. That's a lot of money to make for stealing a few gamers' WoW accounts. And this isn't exactly a new problem. Upwards of 700,000 gamers are victimized daily in what has become a multibillion-dollar industry.

In this case, though, things didn't quite pan out for the thieves in question. After a lengthy trial at the Songyang county court, the leader of the gang, Chen, is facing two years in jail and $8,000 in fines. His accomplice, Zhan, as well as the other eight gang members, will also face sentencing and fines.

So, basically, if you want to sell off in-game items, you should do it the (apparently) old-fashioned way and gold farm and raid yourself.

(Daily Dot via boingboing)