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A man stole $1 million… and spent it on in-app purchases

December 12th, 2016 at 2:47 PM
game of war

If you’ve ever been addicted to an app, you know just how tempting the idea of in-app purchases can be. Whether it’s buying a few hundred Pokeballs in Pokemon Go or dropping some cash on extra lives in Candy Crush, sacrificing your hard-earned cash is somehow much easier when you’re only doing it a few bucks at a time. One Sacramento, California, man didn’t have any problem parting with hundreds of thousands of dollars to make his Game of War empire grow stronger, and that’s mainly because it wasn’t his money to begin with.

Kevin Lee Co, a 45-year-old employee of a construction equipment dealer in Sacramento, was in charge of his company’s accounts, and used that power to steal millions of dollars while covering his misdeeds. By the time he was done, he had stolen nearly $5 million, according to the plea agreement obtained by Ars Technica.

He used that cash to get plastic surgery, play lots of golf, and buy season tickets to the San Francisco 49ers and Sacramento Kings, but his biggest spending spree was in the virtual empire-building app Game of War. Co admitted to parting with a million dollars of his employer’s money in the game, buying reinforcements for his kingdom and battling others.

Co has since been convicted of embezzlement and is expected to receive his sentence in May. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, which is long enough that even his well-funded, million-dollar virtual empire will likely collapse due to lack of leadership. What a shame.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today,, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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