Nintendo Switch Hacker Sentenced to More Than Three Years in Prison

A leader of a notorious video-game piracy crime ring — which sold hacking software and devices to download stolen games to consoles including the Nintendo Switch — was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison. A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington handed down the prison sentence Thursday to Gary Bowser, 52, one of the leaders of the “Team Xecuter” criminal enterprise. The feds say Bowser was the public face of the piracy group, estimated to have caused more than $65 million in losses to game companies. In addition to the Nintendo Switch, the group targeted consoles including the Nintendo 3DS, the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition, the Sony PlayStation Classic and Microsoft Xbox. “Nintendo appreciates the hard work and tireless efforts of federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to curb illegal activities on a global scale that cause serious harm to Nintendo and the video game industry,” the game company said in a statement. Bowser pleaded guilty in October 2021 to two criminal counts: conspiracy to circumvent technological measures and to traffic in circumvention devices, and trafficking in circumvention devices. The Canadian national has been in U.S. federal custody since his arrest in and deportment from the Dominican Republic in September 2020. As part of his plea deal, Bowser agreed to pay $4.5 million in restitution to Nintendo of America. According to court documents, Team Xecuter comprised more than a dozen individual members around the world. Gary Bowser — no relation to either the dragon-like villain in Nintendo’s Mario franchise or to Doug Bowser, president of Nintendo of America — controlled websites that marketed the group’s products, announced new information about the products, and answered customer questions about the products, according to the Justice Department. The damage caused by Bowser and Team Xecuter goes beyond that done to the console makers, “harming video game developers and the small, creative studios whose products and hard work is essentially stolen when games are pirated,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said in a statement.

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