If you were still in doubt that we live in a Clown World, well this story proves it. Teens being imprisoned for life for having technical skills, it’s nothing less than insanity.
Arion Kurtaj als known as TeaPotUberHacker, a teenage hacker who hacked and stole some clips of the unannounced Grand Theft Auto VI and posted them online in September last year, has been sentenced to life in a secure hospital. Kurtaj stole 90 clips of the unreleased and hugely anticipated Grand Theft Auto 6.
Kurtaj, who is autistic, was a key member of international gang Lapsus$. Doctors deemed Kurtaj unfit to stand trial due to his severe autism so the jury was asked to determine whether or not he committed the alleged acts – not if he did so with criminal intent.
He broke into the company’s internal Slack messaging system to declare “if Rockstar does not contact me on Telegram within 24 hours I will start releasing the source code”.
The 18 year old teen was out on bail after an earlier hack on Nvidea and British telecom company BT/EE, when he carried out the famous GTA leak. Despite having his laptop confiscated and him being protected by police, Kurtaj managed to hack into Rockstar Games’ Slack system from his hotel room with the help of an Amazon Firestick, hotel television and a cell phone. He demanded that Rockstar contact him within 24 hours. Kurtaj eventually posted 90 clips of GTA 6 online after his demands went unheeded.
Kurtaj has repeatedly indicated since he was arrested that he wanted to get involved in the cybercriminal world again soon and showed no remorse. Since he was arrested, dozens of reports have also been filed against him for vandalism and assault. Given his great desire to return to cybercrime, and with the skills he possesses, Kurtaj is seen as a danger to society and is thus sentenced to life in a psychiatric center. Only if doctors no longer consider Kurtaj a danger could he possibly be released.
In sentencing hearings, Kurtaj’s defence team argued that the success of the game’s trailer indicated that Kurtaj’s hack had not caused serious harm to the game developer and asked that this be factored into the sentencing. But Her Honour Judge Lees said that there were real victims and real harm caused from his other multiple hacks on individuals and the companies he attacked with Lapsus$. Rockstar Games alone told the court that the hack cost it $5m to recover from plus thousands of hours of staff time.
Another Lapsus$ member, who is 17 and cannot be named because of his age, was found guilty in the same trial, which lasted six weeks at Southwark Crown Court. It is not clear how much money Lapsus$ has made from its cyber-crimes. No companies publicly admitted paying the hackers and the hackers did not provide the passwords to seized cryptocurrency wallets.