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Russian citizen to face ransomware laundering charges in US

A Russian citizen has been extradited from the Netherlands to the US to face trial on charges of laundering the proceeds of ransomware attacks carried out by the Ryuk gang, which has since rebranded as Conti.

Denis Mihaqlovic Dubnikov, 29, appeared before a federal court in Portland, Oregon, on August 17, ahead of his jury trial scheduled for October. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Dubnikov stands accused of laundering more than $400,000 in cryptocurrency extorted from victims of cyberattacks conducted throughout the US and abroad. The operation he was allegedly part of is believed to have laundered $70 million in Ryuk ransom money.

“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,” said the US Department of Justice (DoJ,) announcing the extradition.

The Ryuk collective of threat actors took its original name from the ransomware program of the same name, first detected in 2018, before changing its name to Conti.

The Ryuk ransomware toolkit has been used to target thousands of victim organizations, according to the DoJ. Since 2020, the cybercriminals behind it have also been going after healthcare providers, including hospitals.

Initially believed to be affiliated with North Korea, Ryuk aka Conti is now commonly regarded as being linked to Russia.

Dubnikov was extradited by the DoJ’s international affairs division and its dedicated digital crimes task force after the FBI investigated his case.

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