Mikhail Vasiliev, a 33 year old dual Russian and Canadian national linked to the LockBit ransomware operation has been arrested over his alleged involvement in attacks targeting critical infrastructure and large industrial groups worldwide, the US Justice Department announced Thursday.
Mikhail Vasiliev, was arrested in Ontario, Canada on October 26 following an investigation led by the French National Gendarmerie with the help of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, the FBI, and the Canadian Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
During the arrest, police seized eight computers, 32 external hard drives, and €400,000 in cryptocurrencies, Europol said.
The Justice Department unsealed a criminal complaint filed in the District of New Jersey charging Vasiliev with participating in LockBit’s attacks.
Below is a statement from the US Justice Department
“This arrest is the result of over two-and-a-half-years of investigation into the LockBit ransomware group, which has harmed victims in the United States and around the world,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “It is also a result of more than a decade of experience that FBI agents, Justice Department prosecutors, and our international partners have built dismantling cyber threats. Let this be yet another warning to ransomware actors: working with partners around the world, the Department of Justice will continue to disrupt cyber threats and hold perpetrators to account. With our partners, we will use every available tool to disrupt, deter, and punish cyber criminals.”
“Yesterday’s successful arrest demonstrates our ability to maintain and apply relentless pressure against our adversaries,” said FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate. “The FBI’s persistent investigative efforts, in close collaboration with our federal and international partners, illustrates our commitment to using all of our resources to ensure we protect the American public from these global cyber threat actors.”
According to court documents, LockBit is a ransomware variant that first appeared in or around January 2020. It has become one of the most active and destructive ransomware variants in the world.
Since first appearing, LockBit has been deployed against at least as many as 1,000 victims in the United States and around the world. LockBit members have made at least $100 million in ransom demands and have extracted tens of millions of dollars in actual ransom payments from their victims. The FBI has been investigating the LockBit conspiracy since in or around March 2020.
According to court documents, Vasiliev allegedly participated in the LockBit campaign. He is charged with conspiracy to intentionally damage protected computers and to transmit ransom demands.
If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
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