Two leaders of one of the world’s most notorious videogame piracy groups, Team Xecuter, have been arrested and are in custody facing charges filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Max Louarn, 48, a French national of Avignon, France, Yuanning Chen, 35, a Chinese national of Shenzhen, China, and Gary Bowser, 51, a Canadian national of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, were charged in a federal indictment unsealed today. The indictment alleges the defendants were leaders of a criminal enterprise that developed and sold illegal devices that hacked popular videogame consoles so they could be used to play unauthorized, or pirated, copies of videogames. The enterprise targeted popular consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo 3DS, the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition, the Sony PlayStation Classic, and the Microsoft Xbox.
“These defendants were allegedly leaders of a notorious international criminal group that reaped illegal profits for years by pirating video game technology of U.S. companies,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “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.”
“These defendants lined their pockets by stealing and selling the work of other video-game developers – even going so far as to make customers pay a licensing fee to play stolen games,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran for the Western District of Washington. “This conduct doesn’t just harm billion dollar companies, it hijacks the hard work of individuals working to advance in the video-game industry.”
“Theft of intellectual property hurts U.S. industry, game developers and exploits legitimate gaming customers, all of which threaten the legitimacy of the commercial video game industry,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Eben Roberts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Seattle. “We are committed to working with our international partners to find criminals like these who steal copyrighted material and bring cyber criminals to justice.”
“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,” said Special Agent in Charge Raymond Duda of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office. “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.”
According to court documents, the Team Xecuter criminal enterprise is comprised of over a dozen individual members located around the world. These members include developers who exploit vulnerabilities in videogame consoles and design circumvention devices; website designers who create the various websites that promote the enterprise’s devices; suppliers who manufacture the devices; and resellers around the world who sell and distribute the devices.
The indictment alleges that due to the illegal nature of its business, Team Xecuter continuously sought to evade enforcement efforts by victim companies, financial institutions, and law enforcement. Notably, Team Xecuter attempted to protect its overall business by using a wide variety of brands, websites, and distribution channels, according to the indictment. From approximately June 2013 through August 2020, Team Xecuter used a variety of product names for its devices, such as the Gateway 3DS, the Stargate, the TrueBlue Mini, the Classic2Magic, and the SX line of devices that included the SX OS, the SX Pro, the SX Lite, and the SX Core.
According to the indictment, Team Xecuter at times cloaked its illegal activity with a purported desire to support gaming enthusiasts who wanted to design their own videogames for noncommercial use. However, the overwhelming demand and use for the enterprise’s devices was to play pirated videogames. To support this illegal activity, Team Xecuter allegedly helped create and support online libraries of pirated videogames for its customers, and several of the enterprise’s devices came preloaded with numerous pirated videogames. According to the indictment, Team Xecuter was so brazen that it even required customers to purchase a “license” to unlock the full features of its custom firmware, the SX OS, in order to enable the ability to play pirated videogames.
In September 2020, Louarn and Bowser were arrested abroad in connection with the charges in this case. The United States will seek Louarn’s extradition to stand trial in the United States. Bowser was arrested and deported from the Dominican Republic, and appeared today in federal court, in New Jersey.
Each defendant is 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.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated jointly by the FBI and HSI.
This case is being prosecuted by Senior Counsel Frank Lin of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section Assistant U.S. Attorneys Francis Franze-Nakamura and Brian Werner of the Western District of Washington, with significant and ongoing assistance from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs. The department appreciates the significant cooperation and assistance provided by its foreign government counterparts and the Government of the Dominican Republic, and Interpol Dominicana.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.
Greetings I’m Sam.
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- VA Health Care: VA Needs to Continue to Strengthen Its Oversight of Quality of State Veterans HomesBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays over $1 billion a year to state veterans homes (SVH)—homes owned and operated by the states—to provide nursing home care to approximately 20,000 veterans. In fiscal year 2019, VA paid SVHs $1.17 billion for an average daily census of 20,072 veterans (51 percent of the total veterans receiving nursing home care through VA). Further, VA projects its payments to SVHs will continue to increase; VA projects it will pay $1.7 billion to SVHs to provide care to veterans in fiscal year 2022. VA oversees the quality of care veterans receive at SVHs mainly through annual inspections that VA hires a contractor to perform. In its July 2019 report, GAO found that VA's SVH contractor performed the required annual inspections for all SVHs in 2018, but VA needed to take action to enhance its oversight of SVHs and to ensure that information on quality of care provided in this setting is publicly available to veterans. Specifically, GAO found the following: VA does not require its SVH contractor to identify all failures to meet quality standards during its inspections as deficiencies . For example, GAO found that VA allows its SVH contractor to cite some failures to meet quality standards as “recommendations,” rather than as deficiencies. VA officials said they do not track or monitor the nature of the recommendations or whether they have been addressed. As a result, VA does not have complete information on all failures to meet quality standards at SVHs and cannot track this information to identify trends in quality across these homes. VA is not conducting all monitoring of its SVH contractor. GAO found that, at the time of its review, VA had not monitored the SVH contractor's performance of inspections through regular observational assessments to ensure that contractor staff effectively determine whether SVHs are meeting required standards. Specifically, VA officials said they intended to observe the SVH contractor's inspections on a quarterly basis; however, at the time of GAO's review, VA officials could not recall when VA last observed the SVH contractor's inspections. In July 2020, VA provided information indicating that they will regularly monitor the SVH contractor's performance in conducting inspections through observational assessments. VA does not share information on the quality of SVHs on its website. GAO found that, while VA provides information on the quality of other nursing home care settings on its website, it does not do so for SVHs. According to VA officials, there is no requirement to provide information on SVH quality on its website, as SVHs are owned and operated by the states. VA is the only federal agency that conducts regular oversight inspection on the quality of care of all SVHs and, as a result, is the only agency that could share such quality information on its website. Veterans—like over a million other Americans—rely on nursing home care to help meet their health needs. For eligible veterans whose health needs require skilled nursing and personal care, VA provides or pays for nursing home care in three nursing home settings: the VA-owned and -operated community living centers, public- or privately owned community nursing homes, and state-owned and -operated SVHs. In fiscal year 2019, VA provided or paid for nursing home care for over 39,000 veterans. The majority of these veterans received care at SVHs. This statement summarizes the GAO's July 2019 report, GAO-19-428 , with a focus on issues related to SVHs. Specifically, it describes the: (1) use of and expenditures for SVHs, (2) inspections used by VA to assess the quality of SVH care and VA's oversight of the inspection process, and (3) information VA provides publicly on the quality of SVH care. As part of that work GAO analyzed VA data on expenditures for SVHs and interviewed VA officials. For this statement GAO reviewed expenditure and utilization data for fiscal year 2019. In its July 2019 report, GAO made three recommendations related to SVHs, including that VA require that all failures to meet quality standards are cited as deficiencies on SVH inspections. VA concurred with two recommendations and concurred in principle with the third. VA has addressed one recommendation and continued attention is needed to address the two remaining recommendations. For more information, contact Sharon M. Silas at (202) 512-7114 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Indonesia Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Do not travel Indonesia [Read More…]
- Two Alleged Hackers Charged with Defacing Websites Following Killing of Qasem SoleimaniBy Sam NewsSeptember 15, 2020Two alleged computer hackers were indicted in the District of Massachusetts on charges of damaging multiple websites across the United States as retaliation for United States military action in January 2020 that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.[Read More…]
- Mali Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Do not travel to Mali [Read More…]
- Release of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote StabilityBy Sam NewsDecember 18, 2020
- NASA Engineers Checking InSight’s Weather SensorsBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020An electronics issue is [Read More…]
- South Sudan Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Do not travel to South [Read More…]
- Brazil Can Join the Growing Clean Network by Banning HuaweiBy Sam NewsSeptember 27, 2020Keith Krach, Under [Read More…]
- Seven North Carolina Tax Preparers Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the IRSBy Sam NewsJanuary 12, 2021Seven Charlotte, North Carolina tax return preparers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States by preparing and filing false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray for the Western District of North Carolina, and Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).[Read More…]
- Medtronic to Pay Over $9.2 Million To Settle Allegations of Improper Payments to South Dakota NeurosurgeonBy Sam NewsOctober 29, 2020Minnesota-based medical device maker Medtronic USA Inc. has agreed to pay $8.1 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to induce a South Dakota neurosurgeon to use certain Medtronic products, the Department of Justice announced today. Medtronic also agreed to pay an additional $1.11 million to resolve allegations that it violated the Open Payments Program by failing to accurately report payments it made to the neurosurgeon to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).[Read More…]
- Former Government Contractor Sentenced for Role in Bribery and Kickback SchemeBy Sam NewsJanuary 15, 2021A former government contractor was sentenced today for his role in a bribery and kickback scheme where he paid bribes to secure U.S. Army contracts.[Read More…]
- A Cosmic Baby Is Discovered, and It’s BrilliantBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Born from an exploded [Read More…]
- Justice Department Announces Results in Fight Against the Opioid Crisis Two Years after Launch of Operation S.O.S.By Sam NewsSeptember 24, 2020In July 2018, the Department of Justice announced the launch of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge (S.O.S), a program aimed at reducing the supply of synthetic opioids in 10 high impact areas and identifying wholesale distribution networks and international and domestic suppliers.[Read More…]
- Aruba Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Reconsider travel [Read More…]