US Is Offering a Reward of $10 Million for the Arrest of a Russian Charged With Ransomware Attacks

by Wall Street Rebel - Michael London | 05/17/2023 3:36 PM
US Is Offering a Reward of $10 Million for the Arrest of a Russian Charged With Ransomware Attacks

Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev, the perpetrator in the inquiry, was apparently engaged in three separate ransomware operations, each demanding up to $400 million from victims and getting up to $200 million in ransom payments.    


On Tuesday, May 16, 2023, the Justice Department unsealed two indictments, one of which accuses a Russian national and resident of using three different ransomware variants to attack victims across the United States. These victims include law enforcement agencies in Washington, the District of Columbia, and New Jersey, and victims in the healthcare sector and other industries.

As per the indictment acquired from the District of New Jersey, it has been alleged that Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev, who is also known by various aliases such as Wazawaka, m1x, Boriselcin, and Uhodiransomwar, was involved in multiple conspiracies to deploy three distinct variants of ransomware, commencing from the year 2020. The FBI obtained the indictment. Matveev is accountable for issuing ransom demands in relation to the LockBit, Babuk, and Hive strains of the virus. It is believed that the perpetrators behind various ransomware strains, including Matveev, have systematically targeted numerous individuals and organizations globally, with a significant number of victims located in the United States. According to reports, the perpetrators behind three global ransomware operations demanded up to $400 million from their targets, with victims paying as much as $200 million in ransom to retrieve their data. Multiple entities have been impacted, including medical facilities, educational institutions, law enforcement agencies, and various government sectors.

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"From his base in Russia, Matveev is alleged to have used multiple ransomware variants to attack critical infrastructure around the world, including hospitals, government agencies, and victims in other sectors," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. In order to combat these international crimes, a concentrated effort is required. We will not back down from our commitment to prosecute the most serious criminals in the cybercrime ecosystem.

It is alleged that on or around June 25, 2020, Matveev and others claiming to be associated with LockBit launched a ransomware assault on a law enforcement agency located in Passaic County, New Jersey. A non-governmental organization (NGO) in New Jersey specializing in mental health services was allegedly attacked on or around May 27, 2022, by Matveev and other individuals suspected of being members of the Hive. On April 26, 2021, Matveev and his Babuk cohorts were suspected of carrying out an attack using the virus on the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, District of Columbia.

"From Russia and hiding behind multiple aliases, Matveev is alleged to have used these ransomware strains to encrypt and hold hostage for ransom the data of numerous victims," stated United States Attorney Philip R. Sellinger for the District of New Jersey. These victims included medical facilities, educational institutions, charitable organizations, and law enforcement departments, such as the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, District of Columbia. 

"Data theft and extortion attempts by ransomware groups are corrosive, cynical attacks on key institutions and the good people behind them as they go about their business and serve the public," said Matthew M. Graves, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. 

"The FBI is steadfast in our commitment to disrupting cybercriminals like Matveev," declared the FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran. We will not tolerate criminal acts directed against people in the United States, and the FBI will continue to impose costs on our adversaries in the digital realm through collaborative efforts with the private sector and international partners.

In early 2020, the LockBit ransomware version made its debut. More than 1,400 assaults were carried out by LockBit actors against victims in the United States and elsewhere, with the group demanding and obtaining over $75 million in ransom.

In the year 2020, in December, a new ransomware strain known as Babuk emerged. Over 65 assaults were carried out by Babuk actors against victims in the US and elsewhere, with the group demanding and perhaps obtaining up to $49 million in ransom.

Since June 2021, the Hive ransomware organization has extorted up to $120 million from over 1,400 victims throughout the globe.

Ransomware families LockBit, Babuk, and Hive all made use of strategies that were quite similar to one another.

  • First, the individuals behind the ransomware would search for and gain unauthorized access to susceptible computer systems. This might be done by hacking the systems or getting stolen login credentials from other parties.
  • Second, the malicious actors would install a variant of ransomware on the victim's computer system and use it to encrypt data and steal it while they were inside the system. The next thing that will happen is that the bad guys will send a ransom note to the victim, asking for money in exchange for either pledging not to disclose the data or decrypting the data.

At long last, the individuals responsible for spreading the ransomware would negotiate a ransom amount with each victim willing to pay it. If the ransom was not paid, it was standard practice for the hackers who created the ransomware to post the personal information of their victims on a website that was accessible to the public (also known as a "data leak site"). 

Matveev is accused of colluding to send ransom demands, harming protected systems, and damaging them on purpose. Over twenty years in jail await him if he is found guilty.

The Cyber Crimes Task Force of the FBI's Newark Field Office is leading the investigation, but they've enlisted the help of the Jersey City Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, the Newark IRS Criminal Investigation, and even international partners like the European Cyber Crime Centre of Europol, the National Police Agency of Japan, the Gendarmerie Nationale Cyberspace Command of France, the National Crime Agency and the South West Regional Organized Crime Unit of the United Kingdom, the Kantonspolizei Zürich, and the French Gen

Those who have been held cyber-hostage by the LockBit, Babuk, or Hive ransomware families are strongly advised to get in contact with the FBI office in their respective locations. 

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The United States Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it is designating the defendant for his role in instigating ransomware attacks against U.S. law enforcement, corporations, and essential infrastructure. information that leads to the identity, apprehension, and conviction of the person responsible for this crime. The Multinational Organized Crime Reward Program was established by Congress in 2013. Its purpose is to provide financial support to efforts made by law enforcement to dismantle  international criminal organizations and bring their members to justice. The United States Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is in charge of the program's management and administration.

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                      NJ law enforcement, schools hacked in Russian ransomware scheme



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