False hostage-taking at Ubisoft | The trial of the suspect opens in Paris

(Paris, France) On November 13, 2020, a fake hostage-taking shook Ubisoft employees in Montreal. Almost two years later, a Frenchman is about to be tried in Paris for this hoax.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

Lola Breton
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This day in November 2020, the sky is cloudy and 400 Ubisoft Montreal employees rush out of the office. The day is far from over, however. But the case seems serious: at noon, the phone rang at 911. At the end of the line, “a frightened man mentions that there is a hostage-taking in the offices of Ubisoft”, reads -on in the police report. Five men would demand $2 million or “blow it all up”. After nine hours of checks, the authorities realize that the hostage-taking never existed.

Almost two years after this swatting (a hoax consisting of giving false information to provoke unnecessary intervention by the police), a man is about to face charges of attempted extortion, fraud and death threats in court. His name: Yanni Ouahioune. His nickname: Yannox. This young gamer 21-year-old first-person shooter fan Rainbow Six, developed by Ubisoft, is French. It is in Paris that he will be judged, starting this Monday.


The hoax had led to a major police deployment at the Ubisoft offices on Saint-Laurent Boulevard.

Swatting serial

The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) and the French authorities have not taken Yanni Ouahioune’s name out of their hats. A series of clues led them to this player from the Paris region, a fan of cheat (cheating in video games). Two other false alarms in the premises of Ubisoft Montreal, first. On December 18, 2020, “a man with a French North African accent” called 911 to announce the presence of a bomb in the daycare. Precautions are taken. Security quickly realizes it’s a hoax. On January 6, 2021, again, a worrying call. The boss of the interlocutor would have been shot in front of him, at Ubisoft. Still false. The call did not come from inside the building—contrary to what the number displayed suggested. This is called the spoofingor digital impersonation, also used during the November 13, 2020 fake alert.


Some Ubisoft employees took refuge on the roof on November 13, 2020.

On January 7, 2021, the investigation is moving forward. When the phone rings, this time a man pretends to be one of the game’s designers. Rainbow Six Siege. He says his laptop was stolen and he wants to recover his access codes to read his e-mails. The head of security realizes the deception. The interlocutor launches: “I will tell you what I want because otherwise I will continue to terrorize you until death! I want all the keys of R6 [Rainbow Six] and have access to commands to ban people. »

The mention of R6, the fact that the interlocutor tries to impersonate the designer of the game and that he asks to ban a particular professional player – Spoit.GODSENT – put the chip in the ear of the employee of ‘Ubisoft. All of these tactics have already been used by a player, who was just banned for cheating for the 80e times by the ethics committee: Yannox.

In April 2021, The Press had managed to contact Yannox on Snapchat. He then denied being the author of these repeated calls and attacks against Ubisoft. “By the way, can you say that I’m kindly asking the Ubisoft team to ‘unban’ my account, please?” “, he had written to the journalist. Contacted, his lawyer did not wish to answer our questions before the trial.

File delivered to the French

Although an extradition agreement exists between France and Canada, the Canadian authorities have made an official request for the French courts, which already know Yannox well, to take up the case. October 10 will not mark his first court appearance. The defeat and the frustration of having been caught red-handed seem difficult to manage for Yanni Ouahioune. In January 2022, he was fined 600 euros (around $800) for cyberattacking the R6 game servers. This time he faces a heavier sentence: up to seven years in prison.

This does not seem to have dampened his enthusiasm. A few days before the hearing, the player published – after six months of absence – a new video on his YouTube channel. At stake: a tutorial to download a pirated version of the game’s alternative Five M server GTA V — server equated to cheating by the publisher, Rockstar Games.

If the community of gamers and Ubisoft in particular seem to have been the main targets of Yannox’s attacks so far, others have also suffered. In September 2021, Yanni Ouahioune was fined 1,000 euros (approximately $1,345) for death threats and insults uttered against a journalist from Charlie Hebdo.

During this Monday’s hearing, he will also have to answer for suspicions of computer hacking on the academic platform of the National Center for Distance Education. The young man is suspected of being the cause of this paralysis that the French government thought came from Russia, in April 2021.

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