US offers $10M reward for Russian ransomware mastermind

The United States announced Tuesday a $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest of a Russian hacker who allegedly carried out ransomware attacks on US law enforcement agencies and health care providers.

Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev is accused of deploying ransomware variants known as LockBit, Babuk, and Hive in a bid to extort milllions of dollars in payments, the Justice Department said.

“Total ransom demands allegedly made by the members of these three global ransomware campaigns to their victims amount to as much as $400 million, while total victim ransom payments amount to as much as $200 million,” the department said in a statement.

“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, including hospitals, schools, nonprofits, and law enforcement agencies, like the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington DC,” said US attorney Philip Sellinger of the District of New Jersey.

Matveev has been operating since early 2020 using various aliases including “Wazawaka,” “m1x,” and “Boriselcin,” the Justice Department said.

It said that LockBit ransomware has been used in more than 1,400 attacks on targets in the United States and around the world.

The Justice Department said the ransomware actors would access vulnerable computer systems and encrypt or steal data.

They would then send a ransom note demanding payment in exchange for decrypting the data or not releasing it publicly.

Matveev is charged with conspiring to transmit ransom demands, conspiring to damage protected computers and intentionally damaging protected computers.

The State Department offered a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

If convicted, Matveev faces more than 20 years in prison.


© Agence France-Presse

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