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Nintendo hacker faces jail following FBI investigation

Which found child abuse images on his computer.

A 21-year-old Nintendo hacker has plead guilty to multiple charges, after an FBI investigation uncovered a library of child sexual abuse images on his computer.

Ryan Hernandez, from Palmdale, California, used a phishing scam to glean Nintendo employee credentials and access Nintendo Switch developer documentation stored on the company's servers.

This was back in 2016, when Hernandez was still classed as a minor. A 2017 FBI investigation resulted in Hernandez and his parents being contacted, and a warning being given.

"Hernandez promised to stop any further malicious activity and confirmed that he understood the consequences of any future hacking," a Department of Justice report notes.

But Hernandez did not stop. For at least a year up until June 2019, Hernandez continued to access Nintendo servers. He shared details of the Switch's software development kit which was then used to engineer modding tools. And he openly boasted about his success on social media.

It was then, in June 2019, the FBI swooped once more. Agents discovered thousands of Nintendo files on Hernandez's computers - and, disturbingly, more than 1000 videos and images showing child sexual abuse.

Hernandez has now plead guilty to computer fraud, as the well as the possession of child sexual abuse images. A plea agreement has recommended he serve three years in prison, though his sentence has not been formally set - and the maximum sentence for each charge is far longer.

He has already agreed to pay Nintendo over $258k and must now register as a sex offender.

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Tom Phillips avatar

Tom Phillips

Deputy Editor

Tom is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.

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