Canadian Hacker, Gary Bowser pleads guilty to multiple hacking charges, his punishment includes jail time and $4.5 million USD in payment to Nintendo in restitution, according to VGC.
The 51-year-old hacker was a part of the Nintendo Switch hacking group, Team Xecuter which is a group that has been an enemy of Nintendo for a long time. Team Xecuter was known for designing and selling console modchips to allow anyone to play unofficial games and pirated copies of console games like the ones on the Nintendo Switch. The group has defended itself in the past and has stated their products are not necessarily pirate tools and that they support the ‘right to repair’ movement.
Bowser appeared in court last month alongside fellow member and French native from Avignon, Max Louran, 48 who both were charged with 11 felony charges. The group’s known third member, Yuanning Chen, 35, is still at large. Bowser was arrested in Canada after being found in the Dominican Republic, the hacker was deported to the US and was arrested in September of last year.
Bowser originally pleaded innocent to the charges but recently changed his plea to guilty by admitting to charges of circumventing technological measures and trafficking in circumvention devices. The two counts are up to 10 years in jail, Bowser will also have to pay $4.5 million USD and help authorities find other Team Xecuter members.
Bowser revealed during his plea agreement that he has been working with Team Xecuter since June 2013 and with the group, he “knowingly and willfully participated in a cybercriminal enterprise that hacked leading gaming consoles” like the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Mini and SNES Mini. He adds this was done through devices such as Gateway 3DS, Stargate, TrueBlue Mini, Classic2Magic, and the SX.
In his plea agreement, Bowser admitted he developed, manufactured, marketed, and sold a variety of circumvention devices that allowed the enterprise’s customers to play pirated versions of copyrighted video games, commonly referred to as ‘ROMs’.” In addition, Bowser admitted that the hacking group earned “at least tens of millions of dollars” in revenue and that he personally made $320,000 a year through the group.
“Imagine if something you invented was stolen from you and then marketed and sold to customers around the world. That is exactly what Team Xecutor was doing,” FBI’s Raymond Duda said. “This is a perfect example of why the FBI has made the prevention of the theft of intellectual property a priority. These arrests should send a message to would-be pirates that the FBI does not consider these crimes to be a game.”