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Nintendo hacker mastermind unrepentant, despite Bowser being sent to jail

Nintendo hacker group boss Max Louarn has been interviewed on his company’s activities, following the 40-month prison sentence handed down to colleague Gary Bowser.

Bowser remains the only member of Louarn’s company Team Xecuter to be arrested, deported and now imprisoned in the US, for his part in the group’s sale of console mod devices that allowed people to play pirated games. Louarn, a French citizen, meanwhile lives in Avignon and was recently interviewed by Le Monde (paywall), via TorrentFreak.

“I was’t going to end up as an engineer earning €5k a month when I realized, at 18, that hacking was not just fun, but that there was a way to make a lot of money,” Louarn says, of how he got into the hacking game. “Stealing from companies that make billions, what do I care?”

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Nintendo’s recent lawsuit against Gary Bowser, who was portrayed as a smaller fish and the operation’s money man, claimed Team Xecutor had collectively costed it “greater than $65m” in damages.

Bowser, who has physical health conditions and uses a wheelchair, was arrested while living in the Dominican Republic. He now faces fines of $14.5m, on top of his jail time, after being paid $320k by Louarn over seven years.

In comparison, Le Monde reported Louarn currently lived in a comfortable apartment with a former Russian model girlfriend.

Louarn has faced legal troubles before, though after a 1993 arrest for a Nintendo piracy case simply moved to a “lavish” villa in Majorca.

He has also previously been jailed – after being lured to the US with the promise of a party, only to find it be a federal sting. Facing 40 years in jail for reselling stolen phone cards, Louarn pled guilty and served five years, before returning to France.

In 2005, Louarn was linked to a company selling PlayStation mods which enabled piracy, and incurred a fine of $5m.

The US government and Nintendo are now keen to nail Louarn for similar – though Louarn himself doesn’t seem worried.

“They hate me. I bet that in Tokyo, they posted my picture in an office,” Louarn said, comparing himself to a rebel rather than a criminal. “We’ve always been pro-liberty, that’s our mindset: to do what we want with the machines and for everyone to have access to them.”

Most recently Louarn was arrested while on holiday in Tanzania, though argued his way out of prison and onto a private jet sent by a friend to pick him up before the FBI could swoop.

When Gary Bowser was sentenced, US district judge Robert Lasnik specifically namechecked Louarn when discussing the length of time Bowser would spend behind bars – which, while described as a “unique oppurtunity” to send a message about piracy, was also shortened due to Bowser’s disability and the two years he had already spent in a small cell awaiting trial.

“I want the message to be clear that, under normal circumstances, I would send Mr Bowser to prison for five years,” Lasnick said at the time. “If Mr Louarn comes in front of me for sentencing, he may very well be doing double-digit years in prison for his role and his involvement, and the same with the other individual.”

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