A hacking gang is facing trial at Southwark Crown Court in London for allegedly stealing victims’ savings and attempting to blackmail major companies, including the developer of the popular video game Grand Theft Auto. The key players in the group are identified as 18-year-old Arion Kurtaj and a 17-year-old whose name is withheld for legal reasons.
The duo, along with their accomplices, is accused of hacking the servers and data files of broadband provider BT and mobile operator EE, demanding a $4 million ransom on August 1, 2021. Kurtaj is additionally charged with targeting Uber, financial technology firm Revolut, and Rockstar Games, the developer of Grand Theft Auto, in September 2022.
According to the indictment, Kurtaj attempted to blackmail Rockstar Games by threatening to leak the stolen source code for the Grand Theft Auto sequel on internet forums. The group is also accused of hacking software company Nvidia in February 2022 and holding its intellectual property hostage.
Prosecutor Kevin Barry highlighted that the victims include both individuals who suffered from SIM swap fraud and major corporations that experienced large-scale attacks. The jury heard evidence of members of the public whose accounts were accessed and emptied of their savings. The hacking gang’s actions caused significant disruption and financial losses for the targeted companies, and these losses may ultimately be passed on to their customers.
Both defendants have previous convictions for computer-enabled offences. While Kurtaj has been deemed unfit to stand trial, the jury must determine whether he committed the alleged acts. Kurtaj faces 12 charges, including computer misuse, blackmail, and fraud, while the unnamed 17-year-old is charged with computer misuse, blackmail, and fraud counts relating to the BT/EE and Nvidia incidents.
The prosecutor is expected to conclude his speech on Tuesday.