A man who stands accused of illegally accessing the secure network of well-known gaming company Electronic Arts (EA) was arrested in San Francisco National Airport on Aug. 8 attempting to board a flight to Serbia. EA is responsible for games like FIFA, Battlefield, and Star Wars Battlefront and manages assets in excess of $8.5 billion.
Martin Marsich, 25, made an initial appearance in court on Aug. 9 over a criminal complaint charging him with crimes related to the illegal intrusion of the computer network, according to U.S. Attorney Alex G. Tse and FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.
Marisch was last known to live in Italy and has both Serbian and Italian citizenship. An FBI affidavit read out in court stated that a Bay area video game company learned that they had been hacked and that the intruder had gained access to 25,000 accounts that allow customers to purchase items for use in video games. According to the Daily Post, that company was Electronic Arts.
Marsich allegedly used some of the information he obtained from the computer system to obtain in-game currency, which is used to buy and sell in-game items. He is accused of selling access to online games on black market websites, and the losses sustained from closing the compromised and stolen video game accounts are tallied at approximately $324,000, according to the gaming company.
Magistrate Judge Corley ordered Marsich released to a half-way house on the condition that he post the equivalent of $750,000 in cryptocurrency for bail. The bail can be paid in BTC or altcoins as Marisch sees fit. While it may seem like an unusual decision, U.S. judges can set bail terms at their own discretion based on what assets the defendant has access to — property can also be used to post bail charges.
Marisch apparently has access to a large sum of cryptocurrency, enabling him to potentially foot the bill for what seems to have been a cyber-robbery gone wrong.
The incident is the highest profile case of bail being paid in crypto, but crypto has certainly been used to raise bail money in the past. As reported by Motherboard, the Bronx Freedom Fund is an initiative allowing people to dedicate CPU power to crowdfund bail money for people who can’t afford it by remotely mining and donating cryptocurrency to the cause and prevent people from being imprisoned while awaiting trial.
However, Marisch’s case may be the first incident of someone paying for bail in cryptocurrency directly without converting it first. Due to the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, the sum required for bail in BTC or altcoins changes daily to accommodate for price fluctuation.
Notably, EA co-founder Jeff Burton joined the Dragonglass crypto mining venture earlier this year.
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