18-year-old hacker behind GTA VI leak sentenced to life in secure hospital facility

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By Aprilia Reen

What just happened? The teenage mastermind behind the infamous GTA VI hack and leak that took place last year has been sentenced to indefinite imprisonment inside a hospital prison. The member of hacking group Lapsus$, who is autistic, has been deemed a high risk to the public due to his desire to return to cybercrime as soon as possible.

Eighteen-year-old Arion Kurtaj from Oxford, UK, was one of two teens behind the hack on Rockstar Games last year that led to a flood of GTA VI content hitting the internet. Kurtaj carried out the attack while on bail for hacking Nvidia and British telecom provider BT/EE. Despite staying in a hotel under police protection and having his laptop confiscated, Kurtaj was able to hack Rockstar using the room’s included Amazon Fire Stick and a newly purchased phone, keyboard, and mouse, writes the BBC. He broke into Rockstar’s internal Slack system and threatened to release the source code if the company did not contact him on Telegram. The incident led to his final arrest.

18-year-old hacker behind GTA VI leak sentenced to life in secure hospital facility

Back in July, it was reported that Kurtaj, who was also behind an attack on Uber, had been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial in a London court, meaning a jury could only determine whether he committed the crimes he was accused of, rather than judging him guilty or not guilty.

A mental health assessment used as part of the sentencing hearing said Kurtaj continued to express an intent to return to cybercrime as soon as possible, adding that “he is highly motivated.”

The court also heard that Kurtaj had been violent while in custody, with dozens of reports of injury or property damage. He will remain at a secure hospital for life unless doctors deem him no longer a danger.

Rockstar Games told the court that the hack cost it $5 million to recover from, as well as thousands of hours of staff time. Kurtaj’s defense team tried to argue that the success of the recently revealed official GTA VI trailer showed his hack had not caused serious harm to the developer, but the judge said there were real victims and harm caused by his Lapsus$ attacks on various individuals and companies.

The other Lapsus$ member, who is 17 and cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty in the same trial. He was sentenced to an 18-month Youth Rehabilitation Order, including intense supervision, surveillance, and a ban on using VPNs. He was also sentenced for an “unpleasant and frightening pattern of stalking and harassment” of two young women.

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