You may have caught wind of the story a few months back about a man named Gary Bowser getting sentenced to three years in prison. Bowser was the moneyman of Team Xecutor, a hacking group that sold hacked Nintendo products that allowed people to play pirated games, and in his indictment the group’s boss, a Frenchman named Max Louarn, was charged. But despite a history of getting in trouble with the law, and even getting arrested in Tanzania, the 50-year old Louarn is currently not behind bars, but instead living comfortably in an apartment with an ex-model Russian girlfriend, being interviewed by Le Monde in Avignon, France (via TorrentFreak).
Louarn began hacking in the ’80s on his Comodore 64, first as a hobby, but he grew more embroiled in the financial aspect as he grew older. “I wasn’t going to end up as an engineer earning €5,000 a month when I realized, at 18, that hacking was not just fun, but that there was a way to make a lot of money,” Louarn says. “Stealing from companies that make billions, what do I care?”
“MAXiMiLiEN” (his hacker name from the ’90s, which. lmao) provided cracked games, keygens, and other software, to the point that he was arrested in 1993 in a piracy case involving… Nintendo. He fled to Spain, but he was baited into returning to the US in ‘94 following a false invitation to a birthday party from a friend, welcomed at the airport by armed agents. He ended up serving over five years in prison after pleading guilty, released in 1999. He has ties to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom. In 2005, he was sued by Sony for more piracy activities, and had to shell out $5 million in statutory damages.
Louarn sees himself as Nintendo’s archnemesis. “They hate me. I bet that in Tokyo, they posted my picture in an office,” he says. But he views himself as a rebel rather than a ruffian: “We’ve always been pro-liberty, that’s our mindset: to do what we want with the machines and for everyone to have access to them.” While Louarn denies involvement with Xecutor, Gary Bowser named him as part of the plea agreement, and both Nintendo and the US Department of Justice are after him. He pleaded guilty to things he didn’t do in order to escape a life sentence,” Louarn says. “That’s American justice! The press showed that Gary Browser was living poorly in a tin shack in the Dominican Republic, while Team Xecuter, they are all millionaires.”
As mentioned, Louarn was arrested in Tanzania in late 2020 (around the same time Bowser was apprehended in the Dominican Republic), but was let go when a Dar es Salaam court found the arrest illegal. Louarn then took a circumlocutory, private plane path back to France to evade the FBI. While he’s relatively free there, his foreign bank and cryptocurrency accounts (of course he’d have those) are frozen, and the legal walls around him are tight, Louarn remains defiant, stating that US law is “in the pay of large corporations, ready to destroy competitors by dressing up simple commercial disputes with criminal law.” That said, he’d really like to not go back to prison this time. “Now [serving time in prison] would be hard because I take care of my father. I have a 16-year-old daughter, and soon a second child.”
It’s a wild account that sounds straight out of a Hollywood film, to the point that any extensive commentary on the matter feels like a distraction. We’ll be sure to report if or when the American feds bring Louarn in, or if something else in this roller coaster of a case comes to light.
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