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US jury indicts Dutch man for disabling multiplayer online game

The defendant and his co-conspirators shut down the online game for about two weeks, the DOJ says

A grand jury in New Hampshire has indicted a Dutch man for allegedly conspiring to hack into and disable servers belonging to Rampid Interactive, a company that hosts the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) Outwar.

Anil Kheda, 24, was charged late Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire with one count of conspiring to commit computer intrusion and one count of making extortionate interstate threats, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

IDG News Service was unable to contact Kheda for comment.

Kheda and his alleged co-conspirators, who are all Outwar players, accessed Rampid's computer servers without authorization between November 2007 and August 2008 and rendered Outwar unplayable for days at a time, the indictment alleged. Kheda and his co-conspirators also used their unauthorized access to alter user accounts, including restoring suspended player accounts and acquiring unearned game points, the DOJ said in a press release.

The group also obtained copies of the Outwar source code and used the code to create a competing game, Outcraft, the DOJ said.

Kheda and his co-conspirators sent Rampid messages threatening to continue to hack into Rampid's computer systems unless Rampid agreed to pay them money or provide them with other benefits, the DOJ alleged. 

Because of the hacking activities, Rampid was unable to operate Outwar for about two weeks over a nine-month period and incurred more than US $100,000 in lost revenues, wages, hosting costs, and a long-term loss of business, the DOJ said. The company also lost exclusive use of its proprietary source code, which Rampid created for a cost of about $1.5 million, the DOJ said.

Kheda made about $10,000 in profits from operating Outcraft, which has about 10,000 players worldwide, the DOJ said.

If convicted, Kheda faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and two years in prison on the interstate threats charge.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.


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