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David Pokora pleads guilty to role in international hacking ring

10/02/2014 12:09 EDT | Updated 12/02/2014 05:59 EST
David Pokora of Mississauga, Ont., pleaded guilty in a Delaware, Md., court this week to charges related to the alleged theft of secret software and data from the U.S. military, Microsoft and a host of popular video game developers.

Pokora, 22, was accused of participating in a hacking ring that included members from Canada, the U.S. and Australia. In total, four people were targeted in the sweeping 18-count indictment that includes charges such as conspiracy to commit computer fraud, copyright infringement and theft of trade secrets.

Pokora was arrested in March attempting to cross the U.S.-Canada border at Lewiston, N.Y. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 13, 2015. 

Pokora and the others in the group are believed to have hacked into the networks of Microsoft, the U.S. army and at least six high-profile video game developers over a three-year period from January 2011 to March 2014.

It’s alleged the hackers used stolen names and passwords to gain access to pre-released versions of the popular video games Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3 and a version of a simulation program used to train attack helicopter pilots in the U.S. army.

The group, which reportedly called itself the "Xbox Underground" because it was the preferred video game platform, also allegedly stole design plans for the then unreleased Xbox One gaming system.  

Historic conviction

The U.S. Department of Justice estimated that, in total, the ring stole intellectual property and data worth between $100 million and $200 million, and conspired to sell, use and share the stolen materials with other people online.  

“The members of this international hacking ring stole trade secret data used in high-tech American products, ranging from software that trains U.S. soldiers to fly Apache helicopters to Xbox games,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell in a statement.

On Tuesday, Pokora and another defendant from New Jersey pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and copyright infringement. It is believed to be the “first conviction of a foreign-based individual for hacking into U.S. businesses to steal trade secret information” the statement said.

“These are not harmless crimes, and those who commit them should not believe they are safely beyond our reach,” said U.S. Attorney Charles Oberly.

The others charged in the indictment were Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Md., Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, of Washington, N.J., and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Ind. 

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