David "Kawika" Buchanan of Hawaii's charged with wire fraud, and could get 20 years in prison.
David "Kawika" Buchanan of Molokai, Hawaii, who allegedly passed himself off as a financial advisor, is charged with wire fraud. In one instance he allegedly conned a woman into handing over $40,000, plus an additional $5,000 for taxes, claiming he could turn that money into $300,000, representing a 650% rate of return on her investment. According to the charges against him, Buchanan used the money for "personal travel, an online strategy video game called Evony, Western Union wire transfers to an internet girlfriend in the Philippines, online shopping, credit card payments and miscellaneous personal expenses of the defendant and the defendant's brother."
So how much was spent on online strategy title Evony, best known for its cleavage-heavy advertising? Well into the thousands of dollars, according to the FBI agent who investigated Buchanan. Agent Tom Simon describes Buchanan as a shut-in, and says cash was spent on Evony directly and via Facebook.
"As a middle-aged, admittedly square, FBI Special Agent who doesn't play video games, I was understandably perplexed when, during the 'follow the money' analysis, I kept seeing payments being made to something I'd never heard of called Evony," says Simon. "I was ... puzzled how anyone could possibly spend thousands of dollars on a video game. I wasn't being judgmental about the societal value of gaming. I was just dumbfounded that any video game could possibly cost that much."
Evony's reputation is not the best. It's been accused of using shady tactics to suck as much cash as possible out of its free-to-play model, harvesting user data, spamming marketing and partnering with Chinese gold farmers. It tried to sue one of its critics into silence, but dropped the case after only two days in court.
Buchanan is scheduled to appear in court on May 8th. Should he be found guilty, the statutory maximum is a 20 year sentence.