For breaking into online networks owned by prominent tech firms and the U.S. Army, then subsequently stealing proprietary data and other intellectual property worth over $100 million, four hackers were charged with conspiracies to commit computer fraud, wire fraud, copyright infringement, mail fraud, theft of trade secrets, and identity theft, among others.

The alleged charges included data and software for the Xbox One, Xbox Live gaming system, video games Gears of War 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, as well as special software utilized in training helicopter pilots for the military. The charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell from the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, Special Agent Stephen Vogt from the FBI Field Office in Baltimore, and U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III from the District of Delaware.

"The American economy is driven by innovation. But American innovation is only valuable when it can be protected. Today's guilty pleas show that we will protect America's intellectual property from hackers, whether they hack from here or from abroad," said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.

U.S. Attorney Oberly adds that cybertheft has become far too common. Digital looting and breaking and entering networks are not simple crimes and so those who dare commit them must not believe that they are beyond the reach of the law.

Those charged include Nathan Leroux of Maryland, Austin Alcala of Indiana, David Pokora of Ontario, Canada, and Sanadodeh Nesheiwat of New Jersey. Charges have earlier been drafted by a grand jury on Apr. 23 in Delaware but documents were only unsealed on Sept. 30.

Pokora and Nesheiwat have pleaded guilty to two charges. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 13.

Pokora's plea is said to be the first ever conviction given to a foreign-based individual charged with hacking into businesses in the U.S. to illegally acquire trade secrets. Another foreigner, an Australian citizen, was also indicted for his alleged role in the cybertheft, although under Australian law.

According to court records, the hacking incidents were carried out between January 2011 and March 2014. Aside from stealing proprietary data and intellectual property, the defendants also reportedly conspired to sell, share, and use what they stole.

On top of the value of the information that has been stolen, it is estimated that damages total anywhere between $100 million and $200 million. At the time of the announcement of the charges, U.S. authorities have already managed to seize more than $620,000 in cash and others.

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