A New Jersey man, a Wisconsin teen and a man from Canada are facing more than a dozen charges for allegedly breaking into computer systems and stealing sensitive information belonging to the U.S. Army and other companies, including Microsoft.
Obtained and partially published Thursday by The Smoking Gun, the indictment – still sealed, but filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware – charges Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, from New Jersey; Nathan Leroux, 19, from Wisconsin, and Canadian resident David Pokora.
The men are alleged, beginning in 2011, to have begun a roughly two-year cyber crusade against video game companies, during which time they identified and exploited vulnerabilities in computer systems belonging to Microsoft, Valve Corporation, Activision Blizzard, Zombie Studios, and Epic Games, according to a report.
The Microsoft breach enabled the alleged attackers to steal information on the then unreleased Xbox One, according to published pages of the indictment, which explain that the perpetrators were able to use that data to build counterfeit versions of the console, including one that was sold on eBay for $5,000.
Intrusions into the computer systems of companies such as Epic Games and Activision Blizzard allowed the attackers to steal early copies of “Gears of War 3” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” two blockbuster titles that had yet to be released at the time, according to the report.
Also, Apache helicopter pilot simulation software designed for the U.S. Army was stolen from Zombie Studios, a company commissioned by the American military organization to develop the chopper training program, the report added.
The men are facing 15 felony charges, including multiple counts of wire fraud, three counts of unauthorized computer access, two counts of copyright infringement, and one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, attempted mail fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft, and aggravated identity theft.
The indictment was returned by a grand jury in July and Nesheiwat and Leroux were arrested at their respective homes last week, according to the report, which adds that the status of Pokora was undetermined at the time.