21 year-old Ryan Hernandez, aka Ryan West, plead guilty last week in a U.S. District Court in Seattle to charges related to the 2016 theft of “confidential Nintendo files related to its consoles and games”. When his home was raided by the FBI last year, though, they also found “more than one thousand videos and images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.”
Hernandez was first caught in 2017, after he and a friend got hold of a Nintendo employee’s “credentials”, which as this US Attorney’s Office report says let them download “stolen information, including pre-release information about the anticipated Nintendo Switch console”, which would later be leaked to the public ahead of the system’s launch.
The FBI turned up to Hernandez’s house in October 2017, and in front of both agents and his parents he “promised to stop any further malicious activity and confirmed that he understood the consequences of any future hacking”.
A year later though he was back at it, “hacking into multiple Nintendo servers and stealing confidential information about various popular video games, gaming consoles, and developer tools”. Hernandez was even publicly bragging about it now on platforms such as Twitter, and ran a Discord called “Ryan’s Underground Hangout” where “he and others discussed Nintendo products and shared information about possible Nintendo network vulnerabilities, and on which he shared some of the confidential information he had stolen”.
This led to a raid in June 2019 on Hernandez’s home, where the FBI not only found storage containing “thousands of confidential Nintendo files” and hardware used to play pirated games, but also evidence that he had a big collection of child pornography “sorted in a folder directory he labelled ‘Bad Stuff.’”
Because Hernandez plead guilty to the Nintendo-related and child pornography charges—both federal crimes—prosecutors and his defence attorneys are recommending he spend three years in jail. He could, however, serve up to 25 years if the judge sees fit, given the magnitude of the possession of child pornography charges.
He has agreed to pay $US259,323 ($387,478) to Nintendo, and will now also have to register as a sex offender.