In the fall of 2020, the U.S. Government indicted three members of the infamous Team Xecuter group, the masterminds behind various Nintendo hacks.
The group allegedly made millions of dollars through its operation, which effectively shut down shortly after the criminal proceedings started.
The authorities arrested Canadian Gary Bowser in the Dominican Republic and Frenchman Max Louarn was detained in Tanzania. The latter, a notorious hacker, miraculously managed to avoid extradition to the United States. The same can’t be said for Bowser.
40 Months Prison for ‘Salesperson’
As the purported salesperson of Team-Xecuter, Bowser wasn’t a leading figure in the operation. Most people knew him as “GaryOPA”, the operator of “MaxConsole”, a website that regularly reviewed Team-Xecuter hardware and other hacking tools.
Financially, Bowser’s role was also rather limited. From all the millions of dollars in revenue that were generated by Team-Xecuter, Bowser was paid ‘only’ $500 to $1000 a month, his attorney previously said. He didn’t deny involvement, however.
Following his arrest, Bowser was deported to the United States where he pleaded guilty. Last February, Bowser was sentenced to 40 months in prison for his role in the criminal enterprise. The sentence is significant but lower than the five-year prison term the Government had requested.
During sentencing, Judge Lasnik said that it was important ‘to send a message’ but agreed that a reduction was warranted as Bowser played the smallest role of the three defendants.
Bowser was later incarcerated at Federal Detention Center SeaTac in Seattle. A few weeks ago his attorney put in a request for an early release, citing the time credits earned by his client to date. That request was denied as moot earlier this month, as the Bureau of Prisons had pushed Bowser’s release date forward.
In a recent video interview with Nick Moses, Bowser explains that he was released from federal prison on March 28th. He is currently in processing at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, to prepare for his return to Canada.
Most of the paperwork has been arranged and Bowser expects to travel to Canada in roughly a week, with a newly issued passport in his pocket. Initially, the 50+ year-old feared that he would be left stranded at the border, but ICE agreed to send him to Toronto instead.
“Because of my medical condition, my age, and the fact that I was born in Canada and have family back in Toronto […] ICE is working on getting me back directly to Toronto,” Bowser says, adding that the method of transportation remains unclear.
$10 Million Damages, $175 Paid
For the time being, the Northwest Detention Center already offers much more freedom. Bowser is no longer restricted to a cell but stays in a dorm, has more flexibility, access to decent coffee, and better food options than at the federal prison.
What his life will look like in Canada remains uncertain. However, in federal prison, Bowser has shown that he doesn’t shy away from putting in work and helping other people in need. Aside from his prison job, he spent several nightly hours on suicide watch.
The prison job brought in some meager income, a large part of which went to pay for the outstanding restitution he has to pay, which is $14.5 million in total. Thus far, less than $200 has been paid off.
“I’ve been making payments of $25 per month, which they’ve been taking from my income because I had a job in federal prison. So far I paid $175,” Bowser tells Nick Moses.
If Bowser manages to find a stable source of income in Canada, Nintendo will get a chunk of that as well. As part of a consent judgment, he agreed to pay $10 million to Nintendo, which is the main restitution priority.
“The agreement with them is that the maximum they can take is 25 to 30 percent of your gross monthly income. And I have up to six months before I have to start making payments,” Bowser notes.
At that rate, it is unlikely that Nintendo will ever see the full amount. Or put differently, Bowser will carry the financial consequences of his Team-Xecuter involvement for the rest of his life.