Russian national arrested for alleged involvement in LockBit operation

Ruslan Magomedovich Astamirov, a 20-year-old from the Chechen Republic, has been charged for his role in ransomware attacks against victims in the US, Asia, Europe, and Africa.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) said this was the second LockBit-related arrest in the past six months. LockBit is currently the most active ransomware operation, with over 1,800 victims and counting. DoJ said that the ransom gang has issued over $100 million in demands and has received tens of millions of dollars worth of payments.

According to a criminal complaint, Astamirov was involved in wire fraud with other LockBit members from August 2020 to March 2023. He personally executed at least five cyberattacks. In one circumstance, law enforcement traced part of the ransom payment to a virtual currency address owned by Astamirov.

“The LockBit conspirators and any other ransomware perpetrators cannot hide behind imagined online anonymity. We will continue to work tirelessly with all our law enforcement partners to identify ransomware perpetrators and bring them to justice,” said US Attorney Philip R. Sellinger for the District of New Jersey.

Charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and intentional computer damage, he faces 20 years in prison on the first charge and a maximum penalty of five years on the second charge. Astamirov might also be fined at least $250,000 on each charge if convicted.

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