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What just happened? You might remember the name of Ryan Hernandez, the 21-year-old California man who hacked Nintendo to steal and leak information on the Nintendo Switch before its release. He’s just been sentenced to three years in prison and seven years of supervised release for both that crime and possession of child pornography. Additionally, he must pay Nintendo $259,323 in retribution for damages.
When he was still a teenager back in 2016, Hernandez and an associate phished a Nintendo employee, grabbing their credentials to steal company files that included “pre-release information about the anticipated Nintendo Switch console,” states a news release from the US Attorney for the Western District of Washington.
An FBI investigation identified Hernandez in October 2017, leading to agents tracking him down at his parents’ residence. He swore to stop hacking and confirmed that “he understood the consequences” if he reneged on his promise.
But Hernandez obviously wasn’t concerned about the threat of going to jail. From at least June 2018 to June 2019, he continued hacking Nintendo’s servers, stealing more files relating to “popular video games, gaming consoles, and developer tools.” He boasted about his crimes using online platforms such as Twitter and Discord, and even had his own chat forum called “Ryan’s Underground Hangout,” where he shared the stolen information and vulnerabilities in Nintendo’s network.
Following an FBI raid on his house in June 2019, agents found thousands of confidential Nintendo files. They also discovered a folder called “Bad Stuff” on one of his drives, which contained over one thousand videos and images of child pornography.
Hernandez pled guilty to the hacking and child pornography charges in February. He was yesterday sentenced to three years in “a Bureau of Prisons facility for inmates with cognitive challenges,” after which he will be required to register as a sex offender and complete seven years of supervised release.