British teenager who hacked GTA 6 using Amazon Firestick and a phone given hospital order

British teenager who hacked GTA 6 using Amazon Firestick and a phone given hospital order

Arion Kurtaj plead not guilty but has been detained indefinitely in hospital

Rockstar Games

A teenager who hacked Rockstar Games for footage of its upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI game has been confined to hospital indefinitely under the mental health act.

Arion Kurtaj, 18, was a “key player” in the notorious group Lapsus$, and went on a hacking spree against tech firms including Uber, Nvidia and BT.

He ended up in police protection at a Travelodge hotel, when he decided to carry on with the hacking, and managed to break into Rockstar Games, a court heart.

Despite having his laptop confiscated, Kurtaj carried out the cyber attack using an Amazon Firestick, his hotel television and a mobile phone.

He broke into the company’s internal Slack messaging system and wrote: “If Rockstar does not contact me on Telegram within 24 hours I will start releasing the source code.”

Kurtaj published some of the stolen footage on online forums.

Judge Patricia Lees said the “hacking resulted in a huge loss of marketing opportunities for Rockstar which was unquantifiable”.

It also cost the firm $1.5m (£1.2m) in external help alone, along with thousands of hours of work by employees.

Grand Theft Auto VI Trailer 1

Kurtaj also made multimillion dollar demands of the other tech firms between July 2021 and September last year while he was aged 16 and 17.

Psychiatrists had assessed Kurtaj, who is autistic, as unfit to enter pleas to charges or stand trial.

The court heard that Kurtaj had been violent while he was in custody, with dozens of reports of injury or property damage.

Doctors said he was unfit to stand trial because of his acute autism and the jury was asked instead to decide whether or not he actually committed the alleged acts, not if he did so with criminal intent.

A mental health assessment said he “continued to express the intent to return to cyber-crime as soon as possible”.

It added: “He is highly motivated.”

He will remain at a secure hospital for life unless doctors deem him no longer a danger, Southwark crown court heard on Thursday.

DCS Amanda Horsburgh, from the City of London police, said: “This case serves as an example of the dangers that young people can be drawn towards whilst online and the serious consequences it can have for someone’s broader future.

“Many young people wish to explore how technology works and what vulnerabilities exist. This can include learning to code, interacting with like-minded individuals online and experimenting with tools.

“Unfortunately, the digital world can also be tempting to young people for the wrong reasons.”

How to join the indy100's free WhatsApp channel

Sign up to our free indy100 weekly newsletter

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)