Rich Game Developer Didn’t Notice That Magician Robbed Him of Half a Million Dollars

Richard Garriott, shown above brushing his teeth in zero gravity, helped birth the world-conquering MMO genre. The success of his early Ultima games make him enough money to essentially rent a rocket to go into outer space. But, smart and rich as he is, the man known as Lord British can still get oodles of cash swindled from him. And, between 2009 and 2011, that appears to be exactly what happened to Garriott, to the tune of $561,927.

It looks like Garriott got taken by a magician. According to court documents obtained by the Medford Patch, a victim named as R.G.—"who resides in Texas and has other people pay his bills"—had 134 fraudulent transactions totaling more than half a million dollars.

The credit card fraud happened via Hank Lee's Magic Factory, a Medford, MA shop owned by Harry Levy that the magic-loving game designer has done business with before. The fake orders were made via PayPal and supposedly sent all over the world. Court documents reveal that some orders showed a shipping address that matches that of Britannia Manor II, Garriott's palatial, for-sale estate.

Worse yet, Garriott appeared in DVDs that were being sold at Hank Lee's Magic Factory while this fraud was happening. It looks like the massive amount of fraud happened in bits that were small enough to fly underneath Garriott's radar.

Levy filed a guilty plea in the court case, with the agreement that he won't face stiffer identity theft charges. He could still face up to 20 years in prison on the charges. Kotaku's reached out to Garriott for comment and will update the story if we hear from him.

Owner of 'Magic Factory' in Medford Charged with Stealing 500k from Customer [Medford Patch]