Man offered $1M in Bitcoin to plant malware

Man offered $1M in Bitcoin to plant malware

A Russian national offered to pay a man US$1 million [AUS$1.39 million] in Bitcoin or cash to install malware on his employer’s computer system.

The Russian national in question is Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, age 27. He offered the Bitcoin payment to the employee of a Nevada-based company.

A million in Bitcoin or cash

The U.S. Department of Justice charged Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov with conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer. Kriuchkov traveled all the way from Russia to the United States to meet with the employee, who is known in the court documents as CHS1.

The attempt to get CHS1 to install malware on his employer’s computer system ran awry when the employee notified the FBI about the situation. The malware was designed to allow Kriuchkov’s criminal allies access to the data in the company’s network.

The data was then to be sold on the dark web unless the company agreed to pay a hefty ransom (probably in some form of cryptocurrency). Kriuchkov also told CHS1 that he was part of a larger criminal gang.

Unfortunately for Kriuchkov, he was tracked by the FBI over a three-week time period while he was in the United States. During the surveillance, evidence was collected, including conversations that were recorded. Kriuchkov was then arrested in Los Angeles.

Man offered $1M in Bitcoin to plant malware

Criminal timeline

The court document lays out the timeline for the entire affair. Kriuchkov was made aware of the employee (CHS1) through a mutual contact, and he contacted CHS1 through Whatsapp to set up a meeting in Nevada.

 

Kriuchkov then flew to the United States twelve days after arranging the meeting. He then met with CHS1 a number of times and worked to get in his good graces by paying for entertainment, such as a visit to Lake Tahoe, and dinners.

Once the employee deployed the malware on his company’s computer, Kriuchkov’s criminal allies would launch a DDoS attack to keep the company busy while the data was being stolen.

Kriuchkov initially made an offer of US$500,000 [AUS$695,000] to the employee to install the malware. This offer was later increased to a cool million. To help facilitate the transfer of Bitcoin, Kriuchkov helped the employee set up a Bitcoin wallet through the Tor browser and said, a payment of 1 BTC would be made upfront.

Things came to a head on August 21 when Kriuchkov told CHS1 that plans for the malware planting had been delayed due to his gang finishing up another big project. He told CHS1 he was heading back to Russia. He was then arrested the following day in Los Angeles.

If convicted, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov faces a fine of US$250,000 [AUS$347,580] and up to five years in prison.

Images courtesy of Richard Patterson/Flickr, Caspar Camille Rubin/Unsplash

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