Public Voice and Lead Salesman of Notorious Video Game Hacking Group Sentenced to Over 3 Years in Prison for Conspiracy | USAO-WDWA
Seattle – The public face of a notorious video game hacking group was sentenced today to 40 months in prison for two federal crimes, U.S. Attorney Nick Brown announced. Gary Bowser, 52, a Canadian national from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, pleaded guilty in October 2021 to conspiracy to circumvent technological measures and trafficking in circumvention devices, and trafficking in circumvention devices. During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said, “These are serious criminal offenses with real victims and harm to the community.”
“This hacking scheme is estimated to have caused more than $65 million in losses to video game companies,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “But the damage goes beyond these companies, harming video game developers and small creative studios whose products and hard work are essentially stolen when games are pirated.”
Bowser was a prominent criminal enterprise leader who developed and sold illegal devices that pirated popular video game consoles so that they could be used to play unauthorized or pirated copies of video games. The company targeted popular consoles such as Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition, Sony PlayStation Classic, and Microsoft Xbox.
According to court documents, the criminal enterprise Team Xecuter is made up of more than a dozen individual members spread across the globe. These members include developers who exploit vulnerabilities in video game consoles and design workarounds; the web designers who create the various websites promoting the company’s devices; the suppliers who manufacture the devices; and resellers around the world who sell and distribute the devices. Bowser’s role in the plot was to administer websites that communicated with customers offering devices for sale.
As part of Team Xecuter, Bowser monitored websites that marketed the group’s products, announced new product information, and answered customer questions about the products. Bowser helped create and support online libraries of pirated video games for its customers, and several of the company’s devices were preloaded with pirated video games. Even as game console companies announced new security features, Team Xecuter would roll out new devices designed to circumvent that security.
In the sentencing memorandum, prosecutors cited a victim impact statement that said, “When video games are illegally copied and circumvention devices become readily available, the video game industry – and the economy in general – experience a negative ripple effect…. This leads, at a minimum, to fewer incentives to create and a less vibrant gaming scene.
“This is not a victimless crime. The leaders of this multimillion-dollar scheme are responsible for siphoning off money from creative professionals who have worked hard to deliver unique products and experiences,” he said. “Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “HSI, along with our law enforcement and private sector partners, will continue to pursue those who turn out to be enemies of innovation and global trade.”
“As the voice and public face of these sophisticated cybercriminals for years, Mr. Bowser bears responsibility for stealing millions of dollars in profits and losses from the intellectual property of others,” Donald M. Voiret said. , special agent in charge of the Seattle Field Office. “It also wasted the efforts of legitimate companies as they tried to put protections in place for their products.”
In September 2020, Bowser was arrested overseas and deported from the Dominican Republic. Bowser has been in federal custody since his arrest. As part of his plea deal, Bowser agreed to pay $4.5 million in restitution to Nintendo of America.
Max Louarn, 49, French national from Avignon, France, Yuanning Chen, 36, Chinese national from Shenzhen, China, are both charged in the indictment. Neither is currently held by the federal government.
This matter is being investigated jointly by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Werner of the Western District of Washington and Senior Counsel Anand Patel of the Department of Justice’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section. The government also acknowledges the significant contribution to this case by former Assistant United States Attorney Francis Franze-Nakamura.