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British police arrest teenager over “Grand Theft Auto” hack

A still frame from a Grand Theft Auto video game.
A still frame from a Grand Theft Auto video game. (Image courtesy Rockstar Games/Take Two Interactive, Graphic by The Desk)

A British teenager has been arrested in connection with a large-scale cyber crime that saw dozens of files related to an upcoming edition of the video game “Grand Theft Auto” leaked on the Internet.

On Friday, police in the United Kingdom said the 17-year-old was arrested one day prior at their home in the southeastern county of Oxfordshire.

Police did not disclose the nature of the crime related to the arrest, and reporters based in the United Kingdom say they are unable to report on the specific allegations until they have received legal clearance there.

But a law enforcement source familiar with the incident told The Desk on Friday that the 17-year-old was arrested in connection with the breach of computer servers at Rockstar Games and Take Two Interactive, the developers who produce the “Grand Theft Auto” line of video games. It is also believed the teenager played a role in the theft of intellectual property from the ride-sharing company Uber Technologies, the source said.

Last weekend, a person using the moniker “teapotuberhacker” leaked around 90 video files and other data that they claimed was related to the forthcoming release of “Grand Theft Auto VI,” the next title in the popular Grand Theft Auto franchise. The files were initially posted to the website GTAForum, where the purported hacker threatened to release more information, including the source code for the Grand Theft Auto game currently on sale.

On Monday, a spokesperson for Rockstar Games affirmed their company was the victim of a cyberattack that resulted in the theft of some of its intellectual property, including files related to the development of Grand Theft Auto VI. The company said it was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the matter.

Federal law enforcement believe the theft of the Grand Theft Auto VI files were linked to an online hacking group that is likely also responsible for a cyberattack against systems used by Uber Technologies. In a statement, a spokesperson for Uber said the company thinks the attacker was able to gain access to their systems after stealing a contractor’s username and password.

The FBI’s dual investigations eventually led police to a home in Oxfordshire this week, where the 17-year-old was taken into custody, the law enforcement source said. The teenager is being held on a variety of charges, including conspiracy to attack at least two computer systems, the source affirmed. The Desk is not identifying the teenager by name because they are considered a minor in the United States.

Police in the United Kingdom have declined to offer specific information as to the nature of the charges against the teenager. Officials at the FBI have not publicly commented on the arrest. It was not clear if the teenager would be charged in the United Kingdom or the United States. The source said additional suspects could be identified and arrested in the coming days.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).