GTA 6 Hacker Found To Be Teen With Amazon Fire Stick In Small Town Hotel Room

International cybercrime, as portrayed by the movies and mass media, is a high-stakes game of shadowy government agencies and state-sponsored hacking groups. Hollywood casting will wheel out a character in a black hoodie and shades, probably carrying a metallic briefcase as they board an executive jet.

These things aren’t supposed to happen in a cheap hotel room in your insignificant hometown, but the story of a British teen being nabbed leaking the closely guarded details of Grand Theft Auto 6 in a Travelodge room in Bicester, Oxfordshire brings the action from the global into the local for a Hackaday scribe. Bicester is a small town best known for a tacky outlet mall and as a commuter dormitory stop on the line to London Marylebone, it’s not exactly Vice City.

The teen in question is one [Arion Kurtaj], breathlessly reported by the BBC as part of the Lapsus$ gang, which is a sensationalist way of talking up a group of kids expert at computer infiltration but seemingly inept at being criminals. After compromising British telcos he was exposed by another group and nabbed by the authorities, before being moved to the hotel for his own safety.

Here the story becomes more interesting for Hackaday readers, because though denied access to a computer he purchased an Amazon Fire stick presumably at the Argos in the Sainsburys next door, and plugged it into the Travelodge TV. Using this he was able to access cloud services, we’re guessing a virtual Linux environment or similar, before continuing to compromise further organisations including Rockstar Games to leak that GTA 6 footage. He’s yet to be sentenced, but we’re guessing that he’ll continue to spend some time at His Majesty’s pleasure.

The moment of excitement in one’s hometown and the sensationalist reporting aside, we can’t help feeling sad that a teen with that level of talent evidently wasn’t given the support and encouragement by Oxfordshire’s education system necessary to put it to better use. Let’s hope when he’s older and wiser the teenage conviction won’t prevent him from having a useful career in the field.

115 thoughts on “GTA 6 Hacker Found To Be Teen With Amazon Fire Stick In Small Town Hotel Room

  1. Not enough male teachers for these lads to confide in and see as role models. If I knew him I’d have helped him to really shine, but to do so with lawful opportunities. What a waste.

        1. I do wish this kid had more encouragement from nurturing male teachers, but not NECESSARILY to direct his talent toward a different end. The tragedy is not that he hacked into a video game company. So WHAT? Who was harmed by that, their profits, if that, while he also gave joy to tons of GTA fans? No, this kid was a talented Robin Hood and it’s a crying shame there wasn’t a male (or female) adult influence around willing and able to teach him how to not get caught.

          Real “wokeness” is not about enforcing political correctness or engaging in distracting culture wars. A core tenet would be much more about shitting on so called corporate property rights.

          1. Over reacting hell they should scare the kid Make him think in big trouble then instead of jail or anything will ruin kids record maybe give him a choice between punishment or job where can use his skills.

      1. Lol. This is offensive in every way. Children Genie nails improving at all female school system only benefits women for the most part and takes away masculinity in men. All about balance

    1. Amen man. Kids need people to look up to and If all they see is mischief and stupidity, then that’s all they’ll ever know. Unfortunately you gotta start this process as early as possible.

  2. “we can’t help feeling sad that a teen with that level of talent evidently wasn’t given the support and encouragement by Oxfordshire’s education system necessary to put it to better use. ” is very kind of you. The part about being moved for his own safety is unexplained. If I had to guess I would pick serious mental illness rather than a failing by the schools. Or rival hacker gangs threatening to kill his WoW character?

    1. If you see what happens when a discord or subreddit succeeds in doxxing somebody, anybody, that part probably starts to make more sense. It’s like a bunch of frenzied sharks, they don’t try to make sure the punishment fits the crime

      1. That’s not how that works. Autistic people don’t have special treatment for premeditated criminal behavior, saying this is fairly ableist as plenty of people have autism and don’t commit felony crimes

        That being said, I think it’s likely he gets a slap on the wrist and resources to use his skills constructively. Not because he’s autistic, but because it’s a kid with real talent in a skill that is extremely nessecary going forward.

        Better to embrace him than to rot him in a cell and let him become bitter.

        1. Depending on how affected he is by it one can argue that he has trouble understanding the consequences of certain actions.
          I have no doubt one of the many 3-4 letter acronym agencies in the world will snatch him up tho.

          1. A famous cyber security expert named Kevin Mitnick who recently passed away did similar hacking as a kid. He was bored and wanted to prove something, and he didn’t have many friends in high school so thats why he did a lot of learning with computers and hacked computer systems IIRC, though I’m not sure if he did anything like publicly leak confidential data like GTA 6. “I made some really stupid mistakes in the past as a younger man that I regret,” Mitnick told CNN in a 2005 interview. “I’m lucky that I’ve been given a second chance and that I could use these skills to help the community.”

      2. What? I thought I read it. It says that? Must be my dyslexia or my attention strayed from from the socio-babel. Or there was a squirrel and I lost my place. One never knows. I barely got to this because someone wrote “ableist”.

    2. I would argue that most serious mental illness is a failing in our social and educational systems these people don’t have the proper tools to deal with society there’s nothing wrong with them physically.

    3. You know I find it irritating that all I here is basically that the teen is the victim. Oh if he had this, if he had that! Has anyone implied that he didn’t have support around him with people trying to guide him? Unfortunately the Internet is a child/teens primary influence and we all know how bad that place is. The sad thing is even if he claims to learn his lesson as did the TalkTalk kid, he will still try to live off the notoriety for years to come, as does the TalkTalk kid. I see posts claiming he’s a Robin Hood lmao. People working at Rockstar put their lives into developing these games to provide for their families and them some little scrote comes along and ruins the work. Does anyone consider the wider implications of this? Potential redundancies? Children living in poverty because the parents can no longer pay the bills? Once again the criminal is the victim and the victim the bad guy for being successful. The guys a little scrote and he deserves everything he gets. Maybe one day if he is genuinely remorseful (not living off his old hacks) he may deserve forgiveness.

  3. “Using this he was able to access cloud services, we’re guessing a virtual Linux environment or similar, ”

    No, actually it was cloud service not as a computing service
    but as a SAAS for collaboration, email and teleconferencing.
    So he did it NOT do that by spawning shell thru NC :)
    but by using misusing SAAS services broken password recovery to enter virtual collaboration ” rooms ” where said footage was posted.
    So essentially he connected to your MS Teams room with stolen passwords and ctrl+c your nudes.

    IT is phrased in such a way to evoke emotions
    AND
    to provide “cover” for unspecified SAAS provider who helps LEO in their other different efforts. And LEO does not want to jeopardise “good relations” by saying cloud SAAS providers multi factor authetication used by billion dollar companies s..k.

  4. From what I gather, getting arrested in the US of A is already half a life sentence because of a big chance of getting refused for job offers, insurances and other “normal life tasks”, and that is even without getting convicted for any wrong doing. (Is it really as bad as I think it is?)

    Here in the EU, and I guess also in the UK it’s quite different. Nobody would now (even if convicted) because records are not made public. That is, except for those rare cases such as this when information is spread all over the internet.

      1. “Teen”
        I’m guessing he is 18+ years old.
        I find it hard to believe a minor (under 18 y.o.) can get a hotel room on their own. At least in the USA 🇺🇸

      2. because this is a US multi-million dollars game which will likely to reach the billion in benefit?
        ok, i guess it was just to compare the kind of treatment because between a civilized country (UK) and idiocracy country.

    1. Yes, it certainly is like that here. I was convicted of a felony assault when I was 19 in which I heard a guy who had 100+ pounds and 7″ taller than me bc he aggressively came to attack me. I am now 34 and still struggle to find gainful employment as a result of my background. Its very discouraging. I have moved on with my life. For god sakes I have a family of my own now.

      1. “I can’t get a job because I punched someone 25 years ago.”

        Excuses like these are given by people who come off as untrustworthy or undesirable for other reasons, and they either doesn’t realize it or (more likely) are caught up in blaming others for their own shortcomings in life.

        If you were that awesome of a candidate, your strengths would overcome the stigma of your conviction—especially if it’s as justified as you claim.

        Source: many criminals I know, including myself, with convictions that look way worse than “I punched someone decades ago.”

      2. The “justice” system in the US is awful. It mainly exists to protect the rich and punish the poor. It’s not China or russia, but it’s pretty horrible. Sorry to hear about your misfortune. It’s extremely unfair.

      3. If If no convictions or Ponyo so if everything was adjudicated and then you get on file motion to terminate your arrest records and then no one can find those at Lisa’s CIA is hiring organization can tap into those records but you could explosion from employment appointments and managed more many more to get a way better job when you have a few don’t like the one you have your September to boys that’s it I’m gonna do when I finish my last probation terms

      1. It’s ppl like you who make the US the global laughing stock we are. Cops are crooked, and so is the system. Prosecutors don’t evaluate what is worthy of pursuing, or the truth. They all just go for the throat. And if you do real research, the EU & UK have way safer communities and less crime – bc the govt is *less corrupt and the citizens are just that and not sheep.

        Do real research. There are so many convicted felons – even those for murder, getting released (or not) here in the US bc new evidence or DNA has hence proven them innocent. Obviously a conviction doesn’t mean what you must assume it does.

      2. Oh right, because laws equal good and breaking them equals bad. What a good boy you are. In many states, oral and anal sex are legally considered sodomy and can be charged as felonies. In some states cannabis sale/possesion is completely legal; in others, its a felony. Uh oh! So how do we what whats good and bad! Oh noooo! The US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners. It’s pure insanity how many rules there are in the US and how severe of the consequences of breaking them are. The prisons are inhumane and overcrowded. Plus, we waste billions of taxpayer $ on throwing non violent criminals in jail… it’s absolutely disgusting.

    2. Yes, as an American I can say that the U.S. is indeed that harshly punitive and cruel. It’s an unevolved society whose people largely thought for the longest time that we were a God-chosen beacon of democracy. The propaganda is so effective that even tons of black people believe this. When MLK came out against the Vietnam War, his approval # among black Americans was around 55%

  5. Yes and no. In the U.S. as a convicted felon, then yes. If convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, well that falls under the federal Brady bill and disbars you from owning a firearm. If your in the military, then you are dishonorably discharged because you cant handle a firearm. So yeah thats a big punishment. And no, just being arrested isnt enough for them to take your life away, only if your convicted.

    1. Not entirely true. Even if not convicted, your cases still show up on background checks unless they are sealed, which future employers are hypothetically not supposed to consider, but I completely disbelieve the notion that they don’t. If you get into any future trouble they still can and will also consider your previous cases even if not convicted to adjust your punishment for the current case in question if found guilty.

      1. Can confirm.. non convictions hurt you forever. Source: my 54 year old self who was 9nce arrested at 18 and still has to explain it to HR during background checks .

        1. You are absolutely correct. The United States of America is _not_ a country which in any way, shape, or form embraces the concept of the second chance. It is not a system which believes that people who make mistakes can change and can learn from those mistakes. In fact the situation on the ground is quite the opposite; the US system will grind you into the ground again, again, and again if you FU. Even once. So if you get it into your head to snort a couple of lines of coke or to shoplift the latest Samsung QLED, I strongly suggest that you consider moving to Canada, Norway, or Japan before doing so.

          There are of course exceptions for this rule. Have a peek at Glenn Greenwald’s “With Liberty and Justice For Some” if you’re interested in finding out just what those exceptions are.

          (One last thing… You will be inundated with responses from a certain type of no account INCEL who will take great pleasure in the fact that the US ‘injustice’ system thoroughly, relentlessly, and unyieldingly grinds it’s victims into the ground. You can take these for what they’re worth which is not very much. Unfortunately there is a small but vociferous group of pea brains who love the fact that the American justice system locks its own citizens up at rates which dramatically outpace any other industrialized nation on this earth. In fact the United States ‘injustice’ system keeps pace with the most draconian systems of governance which this planet has ever seen in this regard – oftentimes these systems have been created by our very own CIA, but I digress. One could very easily make the argument that the US ‘injustice’ system has been weaponized into a very effective tool at disenfranchising large segments of the American population who are more or less inconvenient or have the potential for inconvenience to the ruling plutocrats. Anyhoo, as I was saying, these nitwits suffer from a form of personality disorder which is firmly rooted in the foundation of that German Janus of compassion, namely Schadenfreude and Gluckschmerz. Second chances are are for gods, priests, ministers, or almost any other clerical type one might think of and for the laity who sincerely follow them; second chances are _NOT_ in Uncle Sam’s playbook, so I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere.)

          You have yourself a wonderful day now, ya hear?

          1. The high rate of imprisonment is directly correlated to the privatization of correctional facilities. More prisoners = more money. They are INCENTIVIZED to lock your ass up.

        2. You are absolutely correct. The United States of America is _not_ a country which in any way, shape, or form embraces the concept of the second chance. It is not a system which believes that people who make mistakes can change and can learn from those mistakes. In fact the situation on the ground is quite the opposite; the US system will grind you into the ground again, again, and again if you FU. Even once. So if you get it into your head to snort a couple of lines of coke or to shoplift the latest Samsung QLED, I strongly suggest that you consider moving to Canada, Norway, or Japan before doing so.

          There are of course exceptions to this rule. Have a peek at Glenn Greenwald’s “With Liberty and Justice For Some” if you’re interested in finding out just what those exceptions are.

          (One last thing… You will be inundated with responses from a certain type of no account INCEL who will take great pleasure in the fact that the US ‘injustice’ system thoroughly, relentlessly, and unyieldingly grinds it’s victims into the ground. You can take these for what they’re worth which is not very much. Unfortunately there is a small but vociferous group of pea brains who love the fact that the American justice system locks its own citizens up at rates which dramatically outpace any other industrialized nation on this earth. In fact the United States ‘injustice’ system keeps pace with the most draconian systems of governance which this planet has ever seen in this regard – oftentimes these systems have been created by our very own CIA, but I digress. One could very easily make the argument that the US ‘injustice’ system has been weaponized into a very effective tool at disenfranchising large segments of the American population who are more or less inconvenient or have the potential for inconvenience to the ruling plutocrats. Anyhoo, as I was saying, these nitwits suffer from a form of personality disorder which is firmly rooted in the foundation of that German Janus of compassion, namely Schadenfreude and Gluckschmerz. Second chances are are for gods, priests, ministers, or almost any other clerical type one might think of and for the laity who sincerely follow them; second chances are _NOT_ in Uncle Sam’s playbook, so I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere.)

          You have yourself a wonderful day now, ya hear?

    2. There are 4 convicted felon sheriffs in Mississippi and in New York state convicted felons can be sheriff’s deputies.

      No one in the military owns their duty weapons. Seventeen year olds in the military carry pistols. There are waivers for everything which partially explains the current sad situation. Yes, there’s a felony waiver. If you have something they want you’ll get in and stay in. Doesn’t mean I endorse doing bad stuff.

    1. That’s so true. Leaking footage of an upcoming game? Isn’t that called Free Advertising?

      Anyhow, these kids should be given positive ways to apply their exceptional talents, beyond the typical British response of jail and off-to-the-colonies. (Or perhaps not the latter part these days.)

      1. Just like when I rob a Walmart at gunpoint and maybe it got a bit violent but then bring the food to orphans like hey, I’m just feeding orphans out here do you mind? How is it a crime to feed orphans?

  6. Years gone by I came across a kid of similar talent after he hacked the school network via a bot script he wrote. My employers (IBM) were interested in taking him on after the apps team took a look at his work and confirmed it was not a cut and paste job. He was 15 at the time so they waited till he left school and got him on to one of their academy systems to steer him in the right direction. Prior to that the school wanted to expel him, until they found out that Big Blue wanted him. Then he got the support from the school that should have been there from day one. It’s not that the school didn’t know how either, as back when I was a pupil we had two guys one in my year and one above me who both were nurtured in the then Infant IT dept and both are now working for big names and earning considerable money 20 years later the IT dept was enormous and had around 40 non teaching staff and 10 teachers. I had previously worked in it. Iwonder why that guy was missed.

      1. Your screen name should be “I Alone Possess the Cornflakes that Some Mean Jerk Peed Into This Morning, So Now I’m Being Super Brittle and Briney on the Internet”

      2. The IT dept included all non teaching staff in pupil management and admin. Since it was a department that evolved from the days of one class of computers and one in the school office. Actual non teaching “IT” staff still equaled the IT teaching staff. However a couple were on th3 plump side

  7. I’m with Gunnery Sergeant Hartman here regarding a recruit not securing their footlocker with a lock:

    “If it weren’t for [people] like you, there would be less thievery in the world!”

    If you don’t want your stuff publicly accessible, even after a determined attack, do your due diligence in making if more secure. If it’s that critical, add an air gap. MAC-limit access. Add an external ID-verification device that uses robust encryption. Biometric keys. Walled gardens. Don’t just build a username/password portal and think you are done.

    If you walk away from your car with the keys in the ignition and the engine running, come back and find it gone, who’s fault is that, really?

    1. > If you walk away from your car with the keys in the ignition and the engine running, come back and find it gone, who’s fault is that, really?

      So if I ever come across a car with the keys inside and the engine running, it’s OK to take it?

  8. > Bicester is a small town best known for a tacky outlet mall and as a commuter dormitory stop on the line to London Marylebone, it’s not exactly Vice City.

    I think that’s the most apt description of my home town I’ve seen put to words.

  9. And the Oscar goes to… Oh sorry, I was thinking too far into the future. Has anyone already secured the film rights? It’s like in the agent movies when the door is opened with a lockpick. This as a movie could bring a whole generation to study computer science again. This young man has shown us what a real world cyberdeck is. We have a winner.

  10. If content owners, government entities, businesses, would simply exercise due diligence and act responsibility such “hacking” would not exist. IMO, the criminal activity is not air-gapping development servers, databases with personally identifying information, trade-secrets, and financial information. Which translates to my belief that RockStar Games is the true criminal for being stupid enough to have their development server connected to the public Internet.

    It is time that owners of digital information repositories “own” the responsibility for their security and be liable for their lackadaisy attitude. Anything on the Public Internet is an open invitation for being hacked. Yes, the teen should not have taken and distributed the digital material, but RockStar should not have left the digital doors open. The courts will handle the teen “crimes” but RockStar should be required to fully pay for costs incurred by the investigators, police, and courts: after all, RS was irresponsible in implementing basic security.

  11. Why do people under every hacking story no matter what the person has done quickly comes to the conclusion that the kid should do as little jail time as possible (if any) then given a metal like it was some science fair and then have the kid sent off to the intelligence agencies for a nice cushy job 🙄…in i know you are normies but please stop with this fantasy. If you job a bank as a teen do you think the FBI or scottland yard want to put you on payroll ? If you steal the Crown Jewels at 16 do you think the king will give you a pat on the head and a let you marry into the family ? Noooo. So why would we want some amateur who not only was arogant enough to taunt his victims but then get an entire gaming community to go after him and doxx his whole family. Not to mention … got caught. No wonder so many of you have low expectations of your own lives.

    1. Mate you need to go back to school and learn how to correctly write a legible sentence. Between your messed up grammar and misspelling that wall of text is a total dog’s breakfast

  12. Imagine ruining someone’s life and future job prospects for leaking information on a piece of unfinished entertainment that has no real relevance to society.

    Good to see how far we’ve come as humans.

    1. Really? And the dude with 7 kids to feed that wrote original code for that piece of entertainment”s royalty checks to live just got bent over while telling his little rug rats, I sorry no supper again tonight. Fk That.

  13. You do not need any cloud services, one can simply run Linux chrooted on Android…

    This is the easiest way to run whatever you want.

    He might even had it flashed with AOSP or a derivative; but that isn’t even required if you just need to do port scans.

    Besides that there are completely automated vulnerability scans you can run on multiple hosts at a time.

    I personally don’t see the value in wardriving like this anymore, but teenage me was one hundred percent.

  14. If he could hack R* from a remote hotel room in the U.K., the fault rests on R* for a lack of decent cybersec. He shouldn’t serve a day but as we all know the U.K. has hardly a fair or just legal system.

  15. Give him community service. Where he has to mix with people in real life and properly socialise. Maybe the government should look into hiring these kids to try and fight cyber crime. They obviously have the talent for it…. Unlike those in government who think a scientific calculator is cutting edge.

  16. Not trying to fan the anti-game flames here, I’m fine with GTA existing, haven’t had the opportunity to play any recent versions but enjoyed the originals back in the day.

    But…

    Wow.. the irony. Imagine having the book thrown at you for breaking the law regarding a game that is all about breaking the law.

    Ouch!

    1. Ironic or not, R* need to get their act together and protect their assets. The kid did wrong and should be reprimanded.
      Hoeevet, the level of any punishment will probably be disproportionate – but that has always been the case in English Law. “Property” matters more to the authorities than “human life/wellbeing”, just check a sample of prison terms for each crime and tell me I’m wrong.

  17. It has really opened my eyes to a brand new way of looking at the topic. Thank you for taking the time to create this blog post and share your knowledge. It is very much appreciated!
    A British teen named Arion Kurtaj from a small town in Oxfordshire was caught leaking details about the game Grand Theft Auto 6 from a cheap hotel room in his hometown. Despite being part of a group skilled at hacking, the teen seemed inept at being a criminal. He managed to access cloud services using an Amazon Fire stick and continued to compromise other organizations before being apprehended. It is unfortunate that his talent was not nurtured by the education system, and hopefully, he will have a productive career in the future.
    Wayne

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