A teenage hacker blackmailed developers of the best-selling videogame franchise Grand Theft Auto by threatening to release plans for its long-anticipated sequel, a court heard.
Arion Kurtaj, 18, hacked Rockstar Games last September and threatened to release the source code for its upcoming Grand Theft Auto 6 video game, Southwark Crown Court was told.
Kurtaj, who has autism, was assessed by psychiatrists and was found not fit to stand trial. The jury was asked to find whether he had committed the acts rather than find him guilty or not guilty.
He was found to have committed 12 offences including three counts of blackmail, two counts of fraud and six breaches of the Computer Misuse Act.
In 2021, Kurtaj hacked and blackmailed Britain’s biggest broadband provider BT Group and mobile operator EE, threatening to delete data from servers unless he was paid $4m.
He also hacked chipmaker Nvidia Corp in February 2022, taking around one terabyte of sensitive data, releasing about 80 gigabytes and threatening to publish the rest.
The court heard Kurtaj and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were “key players” in hacking group Lapsus$.
The 17-year-old was found guilty of one count of fraud, one count of blackmail and one count under the Computer Misuse Act relating to Nvidia.
He was found not guilty of one count of blackmail and one count under the Computer Misuse Act in relation to BT. The 17-year-old had previously pleaded guilty to one count under the Computer Misuse Act and one count of fraud in relation to the BT hack.
He had also admitted a Computer Misuse Act offence relating to the hacking of the City of London Police’s cloud storage, weeks after the force arrested him in 2022.
Grand Theft Auto is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, with over 405 million units shipped worldwide.
In 2013, Grand Theft Auto 5 was released and generated £650m in worldwide revenue within 24 hours of its release. Fans have waited nearly 11 years for the game’s sequel Grand Theft Auto 6 but few details had been released before the leak.