Three members of an international criminal organization known as Team Xecuter were indicted on charges related to the development and sale of “illegal devices that hacked popular video game consoles so they could be used to play unauthorized, or pirated, copies of video games,” according to a federal indictment filed in Seattle.
Team Xecuter has members from around the globe who exploit vulnerabilities in gaming consoles by designing devices that allow users to play pirated video games, a Friday release from the U.S. Department of Justice says.
Max Louarn of France, Yuanning Chen of China and Gary Bowser of the Dominican Republic are accused of pirating games designed for devices “such as the Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo 3DS, the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition, the Sony PlayStation Classic and the Microsoft Xbox,” according to the indictment.
The indictment regards Louarn as a leader of the organization. He and Chen “would arrange for the manufacture and distribution of the devices,” the release said.
“Imagine if something you invented was stolen from you and then marketed and sold to customers around the world. That is exactly what Team Xecuter was doing,” Special Agent in Charge 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.”
Not only did the organization create and sell devices to pirate the games, it also created “online libraries of pirated video games for its customers, and several of the enterprise’s devices came preloaded with numerous pirated video games.” Customers had to buy “licenses” to get access to all the pirated games.
Louarn and Bowser were arrested in connection with the charges abroad in September 2020. Louarn will need to be extradited to stand trial in the U.S. Bowser was arrested and deported from the Dominican Republic and appeared in federal court in New Jersey on Friday.
The release does not indicate Chen’s status or whereabouts.
The defendants are “charged with 11 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to circumvent technological measures and to traffic in circumvention devices, trafficking in circumvention devices and conspiracy to commit money laundering.”