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GTA 6 leaks hacked using hotel TV and Amazon Fire Stick

Teenager was in police protection at a Travelodge hotel when he obtained 90 unreleased Grand Theft Auto clips

Anthony Cuthbertson
Friday 22 December 2023 11:33 GMT
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Highly anticipated GTA 6 trailer drops early after it was leaked on social media

A teenage hacker who leaked the trailer for Grand Theft Auto 6 was able to breach the video game’s creator using a hotel TV and Amazon Fire Stick, a court has heard.

Arion Kurtaj, 18, was in police protection at a Travelodge hotel when he obtained 90 unreleased clips of GTA 6 from Rockstar Games, despite having his laptop confiscated for his involvement with the cyber gang Lapsus$.

He was sentenced on Thursday to indefinite detention in hospital for hacking Uber and fintech firm Revolut, and for blackmailing Rockstar Games.

Jurors at London’s Southwark Crown Court were played clips of the latest upcoming instalment of GTA 6, which Kurtaj had hacked and uploaded to an online gaming forum.

Mr Kurtaj, who has autism, was assessed by psychiatrists as not fit to stand trial, so the jury was asked to find whether he had committed the acts rather than deliver a verdict of guilty.

This handout courtesy of Rockstar Games taken on 4 December, 2023 shows a video grab of the trailer of Grand Theft Auto 6 video game (Rockstar Games/AFP via Getty Ima)

He had previously hacked and blackmailed Britain’s biggest broadband provider BT Group and mobile operator EE in 2021, demanding a $4 million ransom.

Kurtaj also hacked chipmaker Nvidia in February 2022, taking around one terabyte of data, releasing about 80 gigabytes and threatening to publish the rest.

Kurtaj and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons and whose case was heard alongside Kurtaj’s, were “key players” in Lapsus$, prosecutors said.

A jury in August found Kurtaj committed 12 offences, including three counts of blackmail, two counts of fraud and six charges under the Computer Misuse Act.

The 17-year-old was found guilty in August of one count of fraud, one count of blackmail and one count under the Computer Misuse Act relating to Nvidia.

He previously pleaded guilty to one count under the Computer Misuse Act and one count of fraud in relation to the BT hack. He had also admitted an offence relating to the hacking of the City of London Police’s cloud storage, weeks after his 2022 arrest.

Judge Patricia Lees said on Thursday that Kurtaj remained “determined to commit further serious offences if the opportunity arose” and sentenced him to indefinite detention.

The 17-year-old was sentenced to a youth rehabilitation order with 18 months supervision.

Detective Chief Superintendent Amanda Horsburgh, from City of London Police, said the case “serves as an example of the dangers that young people can be drawn towards whilst online”.

Mr Kurtaj’s cybercrime spree began in September 2022 while on police bail for earlier offences.

He was able to access the internal Slack messaging system of Rockstar Games in order to attempt to blackmail the developer.

Rockstar Games responded by publishing the trailer for the highly-anticipated game ahead of schedule. It became the quickest video in YouTube’s history to reach 100 million views.

Additional reporting from agencies.

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