Members of the multinational video game piracy group Team Xecuter are facing multiple felony charges, the US Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Washington announced Friday. Max Louarn, Yuanning Chen, and Gary Bowser (yes, that’s really his last name) were all charged with 11 felony counts, including wire fraud, trafficking in circumvention devices, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
“These defendants were allegedly leaders of a notorious international criminal group that reaped illegal profits for years by pirating video game technology of US companies,” Brian Rabbitt, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said. “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.”
Team Xecuter, known for releasing homebrew software for various video game systems including the Nintendo Switch and 3DS, is comprised of more than a dozen members around the world. The indictment alleges the group “at times cloaked its illegal activity with a purported desire to support gaming enthusiasts who wanted to design their own video games for noncommercial use. However, the overwhelming demand and use for the enterprise’s devices was to play pirated video games.”
“These defendants lined their pockets by stealing and selling the intellectual property of other video-game developers–even going so far as to make customers pay a licensing fee to play stolen games,” US Attorney Brian Moran said. “This conduct doesn’t just harm billion-dollar companies, it hijacks the hard work of individuals working to advance in the video-game industry.”
The US Attorney’s Office notes these charges are still allegations at this point and the defendants have not yet been convicted. The case is being investigated jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations. Louarn and Bowser were both arrested abroad last month. The US is currently seeking Louarn’s extradition to stand trial, while Bowser appeared in federal court in New Jersey Friday.