Anil Kheda, a 24-year-old Dutch citizen, could face up to seven years in prison after a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of hacking and extortion, acts he allegedly perpetrated against the free-to-play text-based MMO Outwar and its developer, reports Seacoast Online.
According to the indictment, Kheda and a few others repeatedly hacked into Outwar's servers, causing a total of two weeks of downtime over a nine-month period and "over $100,000 in lost revenues, lost wages, lost hosting costs [and] long-term loss of business." The hackers allegedly restored suspended accounts and gave themselves in-game points in the browser-based MMO.
That may sound relatively innocuous, but Kheda and his co-conspirators are also said to have stolen Outwar's source code and used it to create a competing clone, Outcraft. The clone was able to gain a user base of approximately 10,000 players — Outwar's player base consists of more than 75,000 users — and bring in about $10,000 worth of profits for the hackers, the indictment says.
The indictment also includes emails exchanged in 2007 and 2008 between Kheda and the Outwar developer, Rampid Interactive, in which Kheda threatened to hack the game's servers again if the company did not reinstate his banned account or pay him $1,500. The alleged extortion led to an FBI investigation.
One of Kheda's co-conspirators, as mentioned in the emails, goes by 'Pimpster' and 'xPimpster1337' online. According to the indictment, he is a juvenile in the UK; he was not indicted in the investigation.
If convicted, Kheda could be sentenced to as many as five years in prison on the hacking charges, and up to an additional two years for the extortion charges.