The U.S. Justice Department has charged four members of an international hacking ring with more than $100 million in international property theft, including Microsoft Xbox One, Xbox Live and U.S. Army software designed for Apache helicopter training.
Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Md.; Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, of Washington, N.J.; David Pokora, 22, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Ind., were jointly charged with 18 counts of fraud and theft including conspiracies to commit computer fraud, copyright infringement, wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft and theft of trade secrets, according to a statement from the Justice Department.
The stolen data includes Apache helicopter simulation software designed to train U.S. Army pilots how to fly the assault chopper, early Xbox One and Xbox Live software developed by Microsoft and pre-released versions of video games from developers Epic Games, Valve, Activision and others including “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” and “Gears of War 3.”
Hackers stole personal login information from company employees and software development partners to access the target data.
“Members of the conspiracy also allegedly stole financial and other sensitive information relating to the companies — but not their customers — and certain employees of such companies,” the department said in its statement.
Victim companies are believed to have incurred a loss of up to $200 million as a result of the theft, and the U.S. government has seized $620,000 in cash and other proceeds related to the charges.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are still investigating the case, and two of the hackers — Pokora and Nesheiwat — plead guilty Tuesday, with Pokora’s conviction believed to be the first “of a foreign-based individual for hacking into U.S. businesses to steal trade secret information.”