Hackers admit stealing data worth millions from Army, Microsoft, more

Two members of an international hacking ring pleaded guilty Tuesday for their roles in stealing $100 million worth of intellectual property and other data from the U.S. Army, Microsoft and several other technology companies, and two other people also have been indicted, the Department of Justice said.

“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 that entertain millions around the world,” Assistant Atty. Gen. Leslie R. Caldwell said in a statement.

The indictment, unsealed Tuesday, says the defendants gained unauthorized access to networks belonging to the Army, Microsoft Corp., Epic Games Inc., Valve Corp. and Zombie Studios from January 2011 to March 2014 and conspired to use and sell information they stole.

It accuses them of taking information related to Microsoft’s Xbox Live and then-unreleased Xbox One; software that Zombie Studios developed for the Army that simulates flying Apache helicopters; pre-release versions of the Epic video game “Gears of War 3” and the Activision video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3”; employee login information and other data from Valve; and more than $5,000 worth of “confidential data” from the Army.

Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, of New Jersey, and David Pokora, 22, of Canada pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and copyright infringement, the Justice Department said. They are to be sentenced Jan. 13.


A federal grand jury indicted Nesheiwat and Pokora — as well as Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Md., and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Ind. — in April. The indictment alleges conspiracies to commit computer fraud, copyright infringement, wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft and theft of trade secrets, the Justice Department said. It also contains counts of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and unauthorized computer access.

The indictment refers to two co-conspirators, one from North Carolina and one from Australia. Neither is charged in the indictment, but the Justice Department said an Australian citizen was facing charges in his home country.

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