A California hacker pleaded guilty last Friday in federal court to one count of computer fraud and abuse, for stealing and leaking sensitive information related to the Nintendo Switch gaming console and various Nintendo game titles.
Ryan Hernandez, 21, of Palmdale, Calif., also pleaded guilty to one charge of possess of children pornography. A Department of Justice press release says that prosecutors will recommend that Hernandez — aka Ryan West and “RyanRocks” — serve three years in prison. However, he could face as much as five years for the hacking charge and up to 20 years for the child pornography charge.
Hernandez, who is to face sentencing in Seattle on April 21, has already agreed to pay $259,323 in restitution to Nintendo, and must register as a sex offender following his conviction.
According to the DOJ, Hernandez, while still a minor in 2016, conspired with unnamed associate to engage in a phishing scheme through which they stole a Nintendo employee’s credentials. These credentials were used to access and download confidential files that contained pre-release information about the Switch console, which was later leaked to the public.
An investigation led the FBI to contact Hernandez and his parents in October 2017. Despite promising to refrain for further mischief, Hernandez from June 2018 to June 2019 hacked into multiple Nintendo servers and stole confidential information about video games, consoles and developer tools,” the DOJ states. He later leaked this sensitive information, in some cases via “Ryan’s Underground Hangout,” an online chat forum he operated.
A June 2019 FBI search of Hernandez’s home turned up devices containing thousands of stolen Nintendo files. Additionally, investigators determined that he used the internet to collect sexually explicit videos and images of minors, the DOJ press release continues.