The United States had kidnapped and then extradited 29-year old Denis Mihailovich Dubnikov, a Russian citizen, from the Netherlands, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release. Dubnikov has been indicted on charges of alleged crypto money laundering.
Dubnikov appeared in court in Portland, Oregon on August 17. His trial will begin on 4 October and if he is convicted then he faces up to 20 years in prison, according to the DOJ.
According to evidence cited by the DOJ, Dubnikov and his accomplices laundered ransom payments from victims of Ryuk ransomware attacks. There have been thousands all over the world.
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Ryuk is a ransomware version allegedly created by Russian cybercriminal group Wizard Spider. It has compromised technology, healthcare, government, and academic organizations as well as manufacturing facilities. Ryuk made a record ransom demand of $12.5 million in 2019.
The DOJ press release said, “After receiving ransom payments, Ryuk actors, Dubnikov and his co-conspirators, and others involved in the scheme, allegedly engaged in various financial transactions, including international financial transactions, to conceal the nature, source, location, ownership, and control of the ransom proceeds.”
Dubnikov laundered $400k in ransom money
Allegedly, Dubnikov laundered ransom proceeds in excess of $400,000. The DOJ alleges that the group implicated in the conspiracy laundered at least $70 million in total.
He was arrested in the Netherlands last year
Dubnikov was captured in the Netherlands on November 1, 2021, and accused of facilitating ransomware and money laundering. He is the cofounder of Eggchange, Coyote Crypto, and a few other crypto projects, which offered live crypto-to-fiat exchange.
Lawyer: US ‘kidnapped’ Dubnikov
Before the arrest, Dubnikov’s lawyer told Russian media that US law enforcement agents had kidnapped his client in Mexico before transferring him to the Netherlands. His case is being worked on by multiple agencies.
The US Office of International Affairs handled the extradition process itself in collaboration with the Justice Department’s Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force, a unit created to fight cybercrime. The case is also being investigated by the FBI’s office in Portland.