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A man embezzled $4.8 million from his employer and spent $1 million of it on the mobile app 'Game of War'

Kate Upton in a white dress with "Game of War" logos behind her, at a promotional event for the game in South Korea on November 22, 2022
Kate Upton at a promotional event for "Game of War" in South Korea on November 22, 2022
Han Myung-Gu/WireImage via Getty Images

  • A California man was sentenced to 10 years for embezzling millions from his employer. 
  • The most eye-catching way he spent his gains was $1 million on mobile game "Game of War."
  • He later misled banks while applying for loans connecting to the Paycheck Protection Program. 

A California businessman was sentenced on Thursday for crimes including embezzling around $4.8 million from his former employer — $1 million of which he spent on the mobile app "Game of War."

Kevin Lee Co, 51, who pleaded guilty in 2016, was given 10 years in prison for wire fraud, money laundering and submitting false statements to a financial institution, according to the Department of Justice

As an employee of California-based Caterpillar dealer Holt of California, Co misused company credit cards between 2006 and 2015, sending money to his account in hundreds of transactions, according to court documents seen by Insider. 

He spent much of the cash on luxury cars, home furniture, and NFL and NBA season tickets, per the DOJ. But by far one of his biggest outlays was the $1 million he spent on the mobile game "Game of War: Fire Age," the DOJ said.

Released in 2013, "Game of War: Fire Age" is a resource-gathering game that by 2018 was one of the highest-grossing mobile games in the world

A screenshot from a 2014 advert for Game of War, showing a yelling Kate Upton on horseback with soldiers behind her.
A screenshot from a 2014 advert for Game of War.
Machine Zone/YouTube

It became particularly well-known for its advertising campaign featuring the model Kate Upton which ran in 2014, the same year Upton was named The Sexiest Woman Alive by People magazine.

It has also come under criticism, including by Insider, for being a potential money pit. The game is free to download, but players can speed up their progress through buying in-game credits. 

Co later became owner of a solar panel and generator company, and while awaiting sentencing on the above charges, between 2020 and 2021 he committed fraud connected to the Paycheck Protection Program, per the DOJ. 

He misled banks about his criminal history while applying for PPP loans, and fraudulently received $530,552, according to the DOJ. 

Co is not the only person to commit fraud to fund their "Game of War" play — in 2018, former librarian Adam Winger pleaded guilty to spending $89,000 of public cash on it, CNBC reported

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