Man Stole $5M, Blew $1M in Head-Scratching Way

Kevin Lee Co spent it on Game of War, a free mobile phone game
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2016 10:39 AM CST
Updated Dec 17, 2016 10:50 AM CST
Screenshot of plea agreement.   (Ars Technica)

(Newser) – At first glance, it's a rather unsexy business crime: A California man on Thursday pleaded guilty to embezzling $4.8 million from his heavy-equipment-dealer employer. But Kevin Lee Co of Rocklin is making headlines for what he admitted to doing with the cash, a revelation that came as part of his guilty plea, obtained by Ars Technica. From about May 2008 to March 2015, Co made hundreds of unauthorized transactions through Holt of California's commercial credit account; the guilty plea explains Holt routed all its operating expenses through the account. Co, as controller for the majority of the period in question, oversaw the account, and used it to buy plastic surgery, San Francisco 49ers and Sacramento Kings season tickets, a golf club membership, luxury cars, and, most notably, $1 million in Game of War purchases.

WTAE reports the mobile-phone game is freemium in nature, meaning it costs nothing to play. And yet an April article from VentureBeat noted that Game of War players fork over an average $549.69, putting it atop the heap of highest grossing mobile apps. Some takes on why: VentureBeat reports the game has "a lot of depth for big spenders" who, to ready themselves for battle, "need to engage with ... a multitude of systems" whose snail pace can be picked up if you pay. Cracked's view is that the endgame is the issue. There isn't one "beyond attacking opponents," and every battle wipes out real cash. "The best you can do is not lose," and should you falter, reupping takes months—or money. "You're useless to your alliance until you rebuild, and what's money if it's keeping you from playing with your friends?" Co, who faces 20 years, will be sentenced in May. (Read more weird crimes stories.)

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