United States Government seizes $6.1 million worth of cryptocurrency from cybercriminals

November 9, 2021
According to the US Department of Treasury, sanctions will be imposed on the cryptocurrency exchange Chatex as well as its support network for enabling ransomware actors to transact.

By Nairametrics

U.S. Attorney General, Merrick Garland said in a press conference that Vasinsky had been indicted by the Justice Department for hacking personal computers, as well as for being involved in a conspiracy to commit money laundering by requiring ransom payments.

Garland said a transnational criminal gang had deployed ransomware for the second time in five months.

“This is not the last time the U.S. government will go after ransomware in its entirety and make our nation more resilient against cyber threats,” Garland said.

A Treasury Department advisory update from November 8 added Chatex to the list of entities sanctioned by the U.S. government, along with IZIBITS OU, Chatextech SIA, and Hightrade Finance. Chatex is alleged to have strong ties to Czech Republic and Russian company Suex OTC, which the Department of the Treasury sanctioned in September.

Chatex has been linked to illicit activities such as darknet markets, high-risk exchanges, and ransomware, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). More than half of the exchange’s transactions are associated with ransomware groups.

Ransomware activities are highly profitable because of unprincipled exchanges like Chatex, which launder and cash-out proceeds for criminals, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

“The Treasury will continue to deter further actions against the American people by using all available tools to disrupt malicious cyber actors, block criminal proceeds, and disrupt malicious cyber actors,” OFAC added.

OFAC alleged in the same announcement that Yaroslav Vasinskyi, a Ukrainian national, and Yevgeniy Polyanin, a Russian national, were part of the attackers engaged in ransomware attacks against numerous U.S. government organizations and private companies.

In October, Polish authorities arrested Vasinsky. He is expected to be extradited to the United States.

The Justice Department also announced an indictment against Polyanin for 3,000 ransomware attacks for which he is alleged to be responsible, having seized $6.1 million in crypto.

U.S. residents may be subject to enforcement action or sanctions if they transact with Vasinskyi, Polyanin, Chatex, and all other associated entities, as a result of Treasury Department actions.

There will be a $10 million reward offered by the State Department if information leading to the location of key members of the Sodinokibi/REvil ransomware group can be provided. It would also offer a $5 million reward for anyone who can arrest or convict anyone who attempts to launch a major ransomware attack.

The president of the United States has struggled to combat ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure. An attack on Colonial Pipeline resulted in the seizure of over $2 million in crypto following a government task force investigation.