Man embezzles $5 million from work, spends $1 million on an iPhone game

According to a court filing in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, a man named Kevin Lee Co pleaded guilty to multiple counts of wire fraud and money laundering. Working for a heavy equipment company named Holt California from 2008 to 2015, Co stole a total of $5 million from his employer. $1 million of that went to pay for "Game of War," which he played on his iPhone.

This is a game that allows players to battle against millions of other players from around the world. The game works on the freemium model, but in-app purchases allow players to build a war machine by stockpiling weapons. The average player spent $550 on the game in 2015.

Co also spent money on season tickets for the Sacramento Kings and the San Francisco 49'ers, plastic surgery and expensive luxury cars. He will be sentenced in May and faces a maximum prison term of 20-years. Game of War happens to be one of the most profitable mobile video games. It garners $1 million in revenue daily which allows developer Machine Zone to use models like Kate Upton to star in expensive commercials shown during the Super Bowl.

You can check out the court document detailing the plea by clicking on the sourcelink.

source: ArsTechnica (1), (2)



1. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Wow, $1mil on a game. I wonder if the company, Machine Zone, is going to get in trouble.

5. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Is that the developer? I don't think that they did anything illegal. All the blame rests on the idiot embezzler.

2. John-Knotts

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

I swear, a giant asteroid needs to...

4. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

SMH, I'm with you there buddy.

3. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Oh wow.... That guy is nuts. I have to laugh though, the commercial says "Play for free in the app store"... and yet "The average player spent $550 on the game in 2015" That is insane! I really am in the wrong business. I wish I would stop slacking off and learn game development.

11. Krjal

Posts: 438; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

Saying "the average user" like that is a bit of a furphy. Like all freemium games it'll be a tiny fraction of users paying a huge amount and the vast majority paying the minimum 'premium' amount or less (just playing for free).

14. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Oh, I get that, believe me, but it doesn't change the fact that they're taking in $1 million a day... I'd be happy with $100 to $200 a day. Anything more than that and I'd consider developing full time... and work on something grand that'll bring in the big bucks.... ...though realistically, the App Store and Play Store are a bit too competitive for a 1 person development team to get noticed and succeed.... but it's fun to dream. lol.

16. McLTE

Posts: 922; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

$550 sounds insane at first, but it's really only $50 a month. If you enjoy the gaming and that's your choice for entertainment, that's not so bad. I have friends that spend much more that every friday night at the bar! $1 million on a game though? How is that even possible?

17. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Well for someone who grew up playing elaborate console games, that typically cost $50 to $60 for new release, AAA titles, reading about people spending hundreds of dollars on a mobile game seems nothing short of ludicrous. That's my perspective at least. As for the $1 million of IAP... I have no idea, it boggles the mind.

6. jellmoo

Posts: 2658; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I guarantee that the average player did not spend $550 on the game in 2015. These titles depend on "whales", a small portion of the player base that spend a crap ton of money. More likely, the amount paid over the course of 2015 would amount to an average of $550 per player. A very different statement.

7. kiko007

Posts: 7520; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

"Co also spent money on season tickets for the Sacramento Kings and the San Francisco 49'ers" To watch them suck? "plastic surgery and expensive luxury cars." Ahhhh....the classic "new money douche" purchasing kit! Complete with a spray on tan, Tommy Bahama shades, and more! Totally worth wasting STOLEN money on......depreciating assets that can be easily tracked./s

18. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

"the classic new money douche purchasing kit"... That made my day, and it is so spot on accurate too! Thank you sir.

8. tangbunna

Posts: 488; Member since: Sep 29, 2016

he will spare another $2 Million for curing his eyes and his muscle & bone joins.

9. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

I saw Kate Upton. Now I'm happy.

10. TrackPhoneUser

Posts: 256; Member since: Oct 21, 2015

Or just get the modded apk of the game on Android.

13. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

that's only for non-server-sided game..

12. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

1 million on a game... what a waste of cash!

15. JMartin22

Posts: 2380; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

The fact that you can spend even 1% of $1,000,000.00 and still need ways to progress in mobile F2P games, via spending, is quite telling of how toxic this model is for the gaming industry.

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