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Court finds autistic members of LAPSUS$ gang responsible for GTA 6 hack and other high profile breaches


August 24, 2023

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Court finds autistic members of LAPSUS$ gang responsible for GTA 6 hack and other high profile breaches

A London court has found two British teens responsible for a spree of high profile hacks, including one that saw the leaking of source code and videos of Rockstar Games's as-yet unreleased "Grand Theft Auto 6."

18-year-old Arion Kurtaj, from Oxford, was dubbed the "mastermind" of the LAPSUS$ cybercrime gang which hacked into the likes of Uber, Ubisoft, Revolut, BT, and graphics card maker NVIDIA.

Amongst the group's victims was telecoms company EE, thousands of whose customers received text message demanding a $4 million ransom payment be paid by the firm.

Kurtaj was initially arrested in January 2022, and then March 2022, when he was just 16 years old, as part of a police operation which apprehended a number of suspected members of the LAPSUS$ gang.

At the time, Kurtaj's father described his son, who attended a special needs school for autism, as "very good on computers."

Kurtaj, it emerged, had been "doxxed" by other hackers, who revealed his name, address, and posted photographs from his social media accounts.

As BBC News reports, Kurtaj was moved into a Travelodge hotel in Bicester, and while on bail was banned from going on the internet.

However, Kurtaj's hacks continued.  It was during this time that the massive breach at Rockstar Games occurred, releasing internal videos of GTA 6 game footage under the username TeaPotUberHacker.

And when police arrested him for a second time in September 2022, it was found he was "caught red handed" using an Amazon Fire Stick connected to his hotel TV to perpetrate the hacks.

Psychiatrists determined that Kurtaj was not fit to stand trial, and did not have to give evidence in court.

The National Autistic Society describes how people with autism may "not be able to predict the consequences of their actions or learn from past experience," and may reoffend repeatedly if they do not receive the proper support.

In this case, the jury were asked to determine whether or not Kurtaj did the acts alleged by prosecutors - not if they were done with criminal intent.

Meanwhile, another autistic teenager - who cannot be named as he is 17 years old - was also convicted for his involvement in the LAPSUS$ gang's hacking spree.

Both teenagers will be sentenced at a later date.




Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s.

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