An English hacker has admitted he stole 400 billion virtual poker chips worth somewhere between £175,000 and £7.5m in real currency from a popular online game, then sold some of them for cash on Facebook.

Ashley Mitchell gained administrator access to the Zynga site where he posed as administrator of the company's Texas Hold 'em poker game accessible through Facebook, according to published reports.

His greed in moving such massive amounts of chips between June and September 2009 led to detection by Zynga security, which called in law enforcement, reports say.

When he was caught he had already sold about £53,000 worth of the chips through hijacked Facebook accounts.

The judge in the case says Mitchell could face years in prison for the crime, especially since he'd already received a suspended sentence in 2008 for hacking into the website of the town offices of Torbay where he used to work and stealing £2,200.