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Hacker ordered to pay Nintendo 25-30% of his salary for the rest of his life says getting caught was a ‘blessing’ | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

A hacker who was ordered to pay Nintendo 25-30 percent of his salary for the rest of his life has said getting caught was actually a ‘blessing’.

It was March 2023 when Gary Bowser – yes, like the Mario character – was released from prison for the role he played in a hacking group called Team Xecuter.

The group worked to create mod chips, cartridges and jailbreaking software for game consoles, essentially making games free to use and, consequently, making an enemy out of companies like Nintendo.

Speaking to UNILAD, Bowser said he was mainly involved with ‘maintaining the two big websites’ used by the group.

Gary Bowser lived in the Dominican Republic before being arrested. (Supplied)

“My role was basically to post the news of updates and keep the forums running, and later on I got involved as middleman between the developers and those selected to beta test updates and review new products,” he said.

In exchange, Bowser said he was paid a monthly salary of $500, plus the cash generated from ads on one of the websites, which he says ranged from $1k to $3k per month.

Having left his home country of Canada to live in the Dominican Republic, Bowser admitted he ‘didn’t think at the time there would be much risk’, but his actions came back to bite him when he was arrested and sentenced to 40 months in prison in the US.

He was granted early release in 2023, but he still owed Nintendo $10 million in restitution, as well as a $4.5 million fine. In an attempt to pay off his debt, Bowser struck an agreement with Nintendo that the company could take chunks of his salary to pay off the money he owed them.

Nintendo demanded restitution from Bowser. (PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

Nintendo demanded restitution from Bowser. (PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking now about his progress with the payment, Bowser said he’s not been able to secure a stable job, instead relying on money he saved up while working in prison, disability payments for a medical condition, and support from a GoFundMe page.

“Just a few weeks ago the government approved my disability, so now starting in June at least my basic bills will be covered, my rent and utilities, but it’s still going to be tough food-wise,” Bowser said.

The former hacker has done some freelance work setting up websites for clients, though he said it’s been ‘tough to find real work’ since his schooling is from the ’80s and 90s’.

“A lot of companies are looking for younger workers with latest certifications in technology, so I need to do some online courses to get more updated papers to match my skills,” he said.

Bowser is hoping for additional support from GoFundMe. (Supplied)

Bowser is hoping for additional support from GoFundMe. (Supplied)

With that in mind, Bowser admitted he’s not likely to pay off Nintendo any time soon.

“I am barely making ends meet each month, so unless magically I win the lottery or get a book deal or something amazing happens and I end up getting high-paying job or making lots of money… this is just going to be looming figure over me for many years to come,” he said.

But in spite of the fine hanging over his head, Bowser is somewhat grateful for being brought to justice.

He explained: “Life is path of choices, I made the wrong one, that is for sure, but in some ways I look at result now, after all this happened, as a blessing.”

Bowser explained he was on a ‘downward spiral’ when he got arrested, adding: “I was drinking too much each day in the Dominican Republic, gaining too much weight as well.”

Bowser doesn't expect to pay his debt any time soon. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Bowser doesn’t expect to pay his debt any time soon. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

As for the people he had in his life, Bowser said he ‘quickly found out who [his] real friends were’ after he got arrested.

“Time in jail helped me take a deep hard look at my life, resolve some personal issues on why I was drinking daily, and now I’m back in Canada I have been able to reconnect with those that truly care and loved me as friend and human being,” he said.

“That’s been very helpful in getting my life restarted, so I am now back on track and looking forward to having many more decades of living.”

Bowser added: “My health and wellbeing is my focus in my life now, and having those that truly care close to me. No more stupid sh*t.”

Topics: Nintendo, Crime, US News, Gaming, Money


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