U.S. Offers $10 Million Reward For Arrest Of Russian Who Allegedly Developed Software That Siphoned $500 million

(U.S. law enforcement/Handout via REUTERS)

John Oyewale Contributor
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Federal prosecutors charged a Russian national in absentia with creating, developing and administering one of the world’s most prolific ransomware attacks since 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday. The DOJ also announced a $10 million reward for the Russian’s arrest.

“Today, we are announcing that Dmitry [Yuryevich]  Khoroshev, a Russian national, is charged in a 26-count indictment with committing and conspiring to commit LockBit attacks,” Nicole Argentieri, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Criminal Division, announced Tuesday.

Khoroshev, 31, of Voronezh, Russia allegedly created, developed and administered LockBit. “[T]his malicious cyber scheme … has targeted over 2,000 victims and stolen more than $100 million in ransomware payments,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, according to the DOJ’s statement.

Some 2,500 victims — from individuals and small businesses to multinationals, law enforcement, and governments — in at least 120 countries paid at least $500 million in ransom after LockBit intruded into and disrupted their systems, seizing troves of data since Sept. 2019. Some 1,800 of the victims are in the United States, the DOJ’s statement revealed.

Khoroshev — alias LockBitSupp, LockBit, and putinkrab — pocketed $100 million of the proceeds, the DOJ alleged. He kept the data of victims who paid the ransom, reneging on his promise to delete their data after receiving the payments, and threatened to leak the data of those who did not pay, the DOJ further alleged. LockBit’s victims also reportedly lost revenue and spent money trying to recover their hijacked systems to the tune of billions of dollars.

Khoroshev faces up to 185 years in prison and “a maximum fine of the greatest of $250,000, pecuniary gain to the offender, or pecuniary harm to the victim,” if found guilty, according to the DOJ. (RELATED: Hacking Of Insurance Giant Is Bringing US Health Care System To Its Knees)

The unsealing of Khoroshev’s charges means a total of six individuals have now been charged, the earliest in 2022, in connection with LockBit. Of the other five, the Russian national Ruslan Magomedovich Astamirov is currently awaiting trial in the U.S., while Russian-Canadian national Mikhail Vasiliev awaits extradition to the U.S. from Canada, according to the DOJ.

American and British investigators disrupted LockBit earlier this year by seizing control of the ransomware group’s servers and numerous websites, thus decimating the malware’s capabilities, the DOJ’s statement revealed.

“The LockBit ransomware group represented one of the most prolific ransomware variants across the globe …,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said, the statement reported. “The charges announced today reflect the [Federal Bureau of Investigation] FBI’s unyielding commitment to disrupting ransomware organizations and holding the perpetrators accountable.”

The DOJ announced the charges against Khoroshev on the same day that Russia‘s President Vladimir Putin was sworn in for the fifth six-year term in a lavish ceremony, according to multiple reports.