In movies, a hacker typically sits at a large desk with a slew of cutting-edge technology in front of them. In real life, it turns out all you need is an Amazon Fire TV stick, smartphone, keyboard and mouse to steal and leak clips from a game like the hotly anticipated yet to be released Grand Theft Auto IV. That’s exactly what Arion Kurtaj, a member of hacking group Lapsus$, did while already on bail for allegedly hacking NVIDIA, the BBC reports. The 18-year-old infiltrated Rockstar Games, which created GTA VI, going so far as to announce himself as an “attacker” in the company’s slack channel. The scene of the crime? A UK Travelodge hotel officials had placed him in.
Kurtaj was moved to the hotel after hackers “doxxed” him, releasing detailed information about him and his family online, and compromising his safety. While there he was allowed no internet access — something he used the Fire TV Stick to get around.
Further details of Kurtaj’s illegal stunt became public following a seven-week trial and his being found guilty of hacking Rockstar, neobank Revolut and Uber. A 17-year-old was also convicted but, unlike Kurtaj, is still out on bail. The two individuals are autistic, and psychiatrists deemed them ineligible to stand trial. This meant that the jury only weighed in on if they believed the crimes were committed, not if they were done with criminal intent.
Lapsus$, referred to in court as a group of “digital bandits,” is believed to be comprised mostly of teenagers from Brazil and the UK — Kurtaj and the unnamed 17-year-old are two of seven members arrested in the UK. Between 2021 and 2022, Lapsus$ also allegedly hacked Samsung, T-Mobile and Microsoft. Though the group requested ransoms, it’s unclear how much it made from these exploits, if much at all.