On Friday, the US Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Washington announced that members of the international video game piracy group Team Xecuter, are now facing various felony charges.
Max Louarn, Yuanning Chen, and Gary Bowser (ironically named), have all been charged with 11 felony accounts, which include: wire fraud, trafficking in circumvention devices, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The team’s main objective was to develop and sell devices which allow people to play pirated copies of games on their consoles.
Brian Rabbitt, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said: “These defendants were allegedly leaders of a notorious international criminal group that reaped illegal profits for years by pirating video game technology of US companies,”
“These arrests show that the department will hold accountable hackers who seek to commandeer and exploit the intellectual property of American companies for financial gain, no matter where they may be located.”
Team Xecuter gained notoriety for releasing homebrew software for multiple video game consoles, including the Nintendo Switch and 3DS. The hacking team is made up of more than a dozen members around the world. The indictment alleges the group “at times cloaked its illegal activity with a purported desire to support gaming enthusiasts who wanted to design their own video games for noncommercial use. However, the overwhelming demand and use for the enterprise’s devices was to play pirated video games.”
“These defendants lined their pockets by stealing and selling the intellectual property of other video-game developers–even going so far as to make customers pay a licensing fee to play stolen games,” US Attorney Brian Moran said. “This conduct doesn’t just harm billion-dollar companies, it hijacks the hard work of individuals working to advance in the video-game industry.”
The US Attorney’s Office does state however, that no convictions have been made. The charges at this point are still only allegations. The case of these so-called hackers is now being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security.
Louarn and Bowser were both arrested abroad last month. The US is currently seeking Louarn’s extradition in order for him to stand trial – Gary Bowser appeared in federal court in New Jersey on Friday.