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Warcraft helps catch a crook

January 4, 2010
Madden Arcade

Criminals can run, but they can't hide. Especially if they play World of Warcraft.

Just ask Alfred Hightower. Having successfully left the country to avoid being nabbed for dealing drugs, the fugitive figured he was home free. But thanks to his insistence on keeping up with his World of Warcraft habit, Hightower was tracked down by authorities and is now in custody, reports The Kokomo Perspective.

The saga begins in 2007, when Indiana's Howard County Sheriff's Department issued a warrant for Hightower's arrest on charges of dealing in multiple controlled substances. U.S. Marshals were unable to locate the suspect, although a tip placed him in Canada.

According to Howard County deputy Matt Roberson, authorities came upon the Warcraft connection during their investigation into Hightower's background.

“We received information that this guy was a regular player of an online game, which was referred to as ‘some warlock and witches’ game,” he told The Perspective. “None of that information was sound enough to pursue on its own, but putting everything we had together gave me enough evidence to send a subpoena to Blizzard Entertainment. I knew exactly what he was playing — World of Warcraft. I used to play it. It’s one of the largest online games in the world.”

Blizzard played ball, giving up Hightower's account history, IP address, screen name, billing address and preferred game server. One Google Earth search later, and Canadian authorities had apprehended Hightower in Ottowa, Ontario.

“You hear stories about you can’t get someone through the Internet,” said Roberson. “Guess what??You can. I just did. Here you are, playing World of Warcraft, and you never know who you’re playing with.”

Warcraft is just the latest ally in gaming's war against crime. Several weeks ago, police tracked down a New York thief by tracing his online gaming on a stolen Xbox. Federal officials have even begun using Sony's Playstation 3 to crack passwords used by child pornographers.

Source: Plugged In

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