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Chinese Nationals Arrested for Laundering $73 Million in Pig Butchering Crypto Scam

Chinese Nationals Arrested for Laundering $73 Million in Pig Butchering Crypto Scam

May 19, 2024 Blockchain / Financial Crime
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged two arrested Chinese nationals for allegedly orchestrating a pig butchering scam that laundered at least $73 million from victims through shell companies. The individuals, Daren Li, 41, and Yicheng Zhang, 38, were arrested in Atlanta and Los Angeles on April 12 and May 16, respectively. The foreign nationals have been "charged for leading a scheme to launder funds to the tune of at least $73 million tied to an international crypto investment scam," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco  said . Prosecutors have accused Li, Zhang, and their co-conspirators of managing an international syndicate that laundered the funds obtained via cryptocurrency investment scams. As part of the fraudulent operation, victims are said to have been tricked into transferring millions of dollars to U.S. bank accounts that were opened in the name of various shell companies. "A network of money launderers then facilitated the transfer of those
Dutch Court Sentences Tornado Cash Co-Founder to 5 Years in Prison for Money Laundering

Dutch Court Sentences Tornado Cash Co-Founder to 5 Years in Prison for Money Laundering

May 15, 2024 Cryptocurrency / Anonymity
A Dutch court on Tuesday sentenced one of the co-founders of the now-sanctioned Tornado Cash cryptocurrency mixer service to 5 years and 4 months in prison. While the name of the defendant was  redacted in the verdict , it's known that Alexey Pertsev, a 31-year-old Russian national, had been  awaiting trial  in the Netherlands on money laundering charges. Pertsev, one of the developers of Tornado Cash, was  arrested  in Amsterdam in August 2022 days after the U.S. Treasury Department  sanctioned  the service for allowing malicious actors such as the Lazarus Group to launder and cash out their proceeds. In addition to the imprisonment, the defendant is expected to forfeit cryptocurrency assets worth €1.9 million (~$2.05 million) and a Porsche car that had been previously seized. "The defendant declared that it was never his intention to break the law or to facilitate criminal activities," a summary of the ruling  said . "With Tornado Cash, he wanted to offer a l
Russian Operator of BTC-e Crypto Exchange Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering

Russian Operator of BTC-e Crypto Exchange Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering

May 07, 2024 Cryptocurrency / Cybercrime
A Russian operator of a now-dismantled BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange has  pleaded guilty  to money laundering charges from 2011 to 2017. Alexander Vinnik, 44, was charged in January 2017 and taken into custody in Greece in July 2017. He was subsequently  extradited  to the U.S. in August 2022. Vinnik and his co-conspirators have been accused of owning and managing BTC-e, which allowed its criminal customers to trade in Bitcoin with high levels of anonymity. BTC-e is said to have facilitated transactions for cybercriminals worldwide, receiving illicit proceeds from numerous computer intrusions and hacking incidents, ransomware scams, identity theft schemes, corrupt public officials, and narcotics distribution rings. The crypto exchange received more than $4 billion worth of bitcoin over the course of its operation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ). It also processed over $9 billion-worth of transactions and served over one million users worldwide, several of them i
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SHQ Response Platform and Risk Centre to Enable Management and Analysts Alike

SHQ Response Platform and Risk Centre to Enable Management and Analysts Alike

May 13, 2024Threat Detection / SoC / SIEM
In the last decade, there has been a growing disconnect between front-line analysts and senior management in IT and Cybersecurity. Well-documented challenges facing modern analysts revolve around a high volume of alerts, false positives, poor visibility of technical environments, and analysts spending too much time on manual tasks. The Impact of Alert Fatigue and False Positives  Analysts are overwhelmed with alerts. The knock-on effect of this is that fatigued analysts are at risk of missing key details in incidents, and often conduct time-consuming triaging tasks manually only to end up copying and pasting a generic closing comment into a false positive alert.  It is likely that there will always be false positives. And many would argue that a false positive is better than a false negative. But for proactive actions to be made, we must move closer to the heart of an incident. That requires diving into how analysts conduct the triage and investigation process. SHQ Response Platfo
Ukrainian REvil Hacker Sentenced to 13 Years and Ordered to Pay $16 Million

Ukrainian REvil Hacker Sentenced to 13 Years and Ordered to Pay $16 Million

May 02, 2024 Ransomware / Cyber Crime
A Ukrainian national has been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison and ordered to pay $16 million in restitution for carrying out thousands of ransomware attacks and extorting victims. Yaroslav Vasinskyi (aka Rabotnik), 24, along with his co-conspirators part of the  REvil ransomware group  orchestrated more than 2,500 ransomware attacks and demanded ransom payments in cryptocurrency totaling more than $700 million. "The co-conspirators demanded ransom payments in cryptocurrency and used cryptocurrency exchangers and mixing services to hide their ill-gotten gains," the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ)  said . "To drive their ransom demands higher, Sodinokibi/REvil co-conspirators also publicly exposed their victims' data when victims would not pay ransom demands." Vasinskyi was  extradited  to the U.S. in March 2022 following his arrest in Poland in October 2021. REvil, prior to formally going offline in late 2021, was responsible for a series of high
Bitcoin Forensic Analysis Uncovers Money Laundering Clusters and Criminal Proceeds

Bitcoin Forensic Analysis Uncovers Money Laundering Clusters and Criminal Proceeds

May 01, 2024 Financial Crime / Forensic Analysis
A forensic analysis of a graph dataset containing transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain has revealed clusters associated with illicit activity and money laundering, including detecting criminal proceeds sent to a crypto exchange and previously unknown wallets belonging to a Russian darknet market. The  findings  come from Elliptic in collaboration with researchers from the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. The 26 GB dataset, dubbed  Elliptic2 , is a "large graph dataset containing 122K labeled subgraphs of Bitcoin clusters within a background graph consisting of 49M node clusters and 196M edge transactions," the co-authors  said  in a paper shared with The Hacker News. Elliptic2 builds on the  Elliptic Data Set  (aka Elliptic1), a transaction graph that was made public in July 2019 with the goal of  combating financial crime  using graph convolutional neural networks ( GCNs ). The idea, in a nutshell, is to uncover unlawful activity and money laundering patterns by taking advanta
DOJ Arrests Founders of Crypto Mixer Samourai for $2 Billion in Illegal Transactions

DOJ Arrests Founders of Crypto Mixer Samourai for $2 Billion in Illegal Transactions

Apr 25, 2024 Cryptocurrency / Cybercrime
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) on Wednesday  announced  the arrest of two co-founders of a cryptocurrency mixer called Samourai and seized the service for allegedly facilitating over $2 billion in illegal transactions and for laundering more than $100 million in criminal proceeds. To that end, Keonne Rodriguez, 35, and William Lonergan Hill, 65, have been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business from 2015 through February 2024. Rodriguez and Hill face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison each. Rodriguez, the CEO of the company, and CTO Hill intentionally designed Samourai to help "criminals to engage in large-scale money laundering and sanctions evasion," while ostensibly marketing as a privacy-oriented service, the DoJ said. Samourai laundered money from illegal dark web marketplaces, including Silk Road and Hydra, as well as spear-phishing schemes and scams aimed at defrauding multip
Ex-Security Engineer Jailed 3 Years for $12.3 Million Crypto Exchange Thefts

Ex-Security Engineer Jailed 3 Years for $12.3 Million Crypto Exchange Thefts

Apr 13, 2024 Cryptocurrency / Regulatory Compliance
A former security engineer has been  sentenced  to three years in prison in the U.S. for charges relating to hacking two decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges in July 2022 and stealing over $12.3 million. Shakeeb Ahmed, the defendant in question,  pled guilty  to one count of computer fraud in December 2023  following his arrest  in July. "At the time of both attacks, Ahmed, a U.S. citizen, was a senior security engineer for an international technology company whose resume reflected skills in, among other things, reverse engineering smart contracts and blockchain audits, which are some of the specialized skills Ahmed used to execute the hacks," the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) noted at the time. While the name of the company was not disclosed, he was residing in Manhattan, New York, and  working for Amazon  before he was apprehended. Court documents show that Ahmed exploited a security flaw in an unnamed cryptocurrency exchange's smart contracts to insert "
U.S. Sanctions 3 Cryptocurrency Exchanges for Helping Russia Evade Sanctions

U.S. Sanctions 3 Cryptocurrency Exchanges for Helping Russia Evade Sanctions

Mar 26, 2024 Money Laundering / Digital Currency
The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned three cryptocurrency exchanges for offering services used to evade economic restrictions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. This includes Bitpapa IC FZC LLC, Crypto Explorer DMCC (AWEX), and Obshchestvo S Ogranichennoy Otvetstvennostyu Tsentr Obrabotki Elektronnykh Platezhey (TOEP). In all, the designations cover thirteen entities and two individuals operating in the Russian financial services and technology sectors. "Many of the individuals and entities designated today facilitated transactions or offered other services that helped OFAC-designated entities evade sanctions," the Treasury  said , adding the action seeks to "target companies servicing Russia's core financial infrastructure and curtail Russia's use of the international financial system to further its war against Ukraine." Bitpapa, which offers virtual currency excha
German Police Seize 'Nemesis Market' in Major International Darknet Raid

German Police Seize 'Nemesis Market' in Major International Darknet Raid

Mar 24, 2024 Ransomware / Threat Intelligence
German authorities have announced the takedown of an illicit underground marketplace called  Nemesis Market  that peddled narcotics, stolen data, and various cybercrime services. The Federal Criminal Police Office (aka Bundeskriminalamt or BKA) said it seized the digital infrastructure associated with the darknet service located in Germany and Lithuania and confiscated €94,000 ($102,107) in cryptocurrency assets. The operation, conducted in collaboration with law enforcement agencies from Germany, Lithuania, and the U.S., took place on March 20, 2024, following an extensive investigation that commenced in October 2022. Founded in 2021, Nemesis Market is estimated to have had more than 150,000 user accounts and 1,100 seller accounts from all over the world prior to its shutdown. Almost 20$ of the seller accounts were from Germany. "The range of goods available on the marketplace included narcotics, fraudulently obtained data and goods, as well as a selection of cybercrime serv
How Cybercriminals are Exploiting India's UPI for Money Laundering Operations

How Cybercriminals are Exploiting India's UPI for Money Laundering Operations

Mar 04, 2024 Cybercrime / Mobile Security
Cybercriminals are using a network of hired money mules in India using an Android-based application to orchestrate a massive money laundering scheme. The malicious application, called  XHelper , is a "key tool for onboarding and managing these money mules," CloudSEK researchers Sparsh Kulshrestha, Abhishek Mathew, and Santripti Bhujel  said  in a report. Details about the scam  first emerged  in late October 2023, when Chinese cyber criminals were found to take advantage of the fact that Indian Unified Payments Interface ( UPI ) service providers operate without coverage under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to initiate illegal transactions under the guise of offering an instant loan. The ill-gotten proceeds from the operation are transferred to other accounts belonging to hired mules, who are recruited from Telegram in return for commissions ranging from 1-2% of the total transaction amounts. "Central to this operation are Chinese payment gateways ex
FBI's Most-Wanted Zeus and IcedID Malware Mastermind Pleads Guilty

FBI's Most-Wanted Zeus and IcedID Malware Mastermind Pleads Guilty

Feb 18, 2024 Malware / Cybercrime
A Ukrainian national has pleaded guilty in the U.S. to his role in two different malware schemes, Zeus and IcedID, between May 2009 and February 2021. Vyacheslav Igorevich Penchukov (aka Vyacheslav Igoravich Andreev, father, and tank), 37, was  arrested  by Swiss authorities in October 2022 and extradited to the U.S. last year. He was added to the FBI's most-wanted list in 2012. The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ)  described  Penchukov as a "leader of two prolific malware groups" that infected thousands of computers with malware, leading to ransomware and the theft of millions of dollars. This included the Zeus banking trojan that facilitated the theft of bank account information, passwords, personal identification numbers, and other details necessary to login to online banking accounts. Penchukov and his co-conspirators, as part of the "wide-ranging racketeering enterprise" dubbed Jabber Zeus gang, then masqueraded as employees of the victims to initiate
U.S. Offers $10 Million Bounty for Info Leading to Arrest of Hive Ransomware Leaders

U.S. Offers $10 Million Bounty for Info Leading to Arrest of Hive Ransomware Leaders

Feb 12, 2024 Dark Web / Cryptocurrency
The U.S. Department of State has  announced  monetary rewards of up to $10 million for information about individuals holding key positions within the Hive ransomware operation. It is also giving away an additional $5 million for specifics that could lead to the arrest and/or conviction of any person "conspiring to participate in or attempting to participate in Hive ransomware activity." The multi-million-dollar rewards come a little over a year after a coordinated law enforcement effort  covertly infiltrated and dismantled  the darknet infrastructure associated with the Hive ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) gang. One person with suspected ties to the group was  arrested  in Paris in December 2023. Hive, which emerged in mid-2021, targeted more than 1,500 victims in over 80 countries, netting about $100 million in illegal revenues. In November 2023, Bitdefender  revealed  that a new ransomware group called Hunters International had acquired the source code and infrastructure
Belarusian National Linked to BTC-e Faces 25 Years for $4 Billion Crypto Money Laundering

Belarusian National Linked to BTC-e Faces 25 Years for $4 Billion Crypto Money Laundering

Feb 05, 2024 Cryptocurrency / Financial Fraud
A 42-year-old Belarusian and Cypriot national with alleged connections to the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e is facing charges related to money laundering and operating an unlicensed money services business. Aliaksandr Klimenka , who was arrested in Latvia on December 21, 2023, was extradited to the U.S. and is currently being held in custody. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. BTC-e, which had been operating since 2011, was seized by law enforcement authorities in late July 2017 following the arrest of another key member  Alexander Vinnik , in Greece. The exchange is alleged to have received deposits valued at over $4 billion, with Vinnik laundering funds received from the hack of another digital exchange, Mt. Gox, through various online exchanges, including BTC-e. Court documents  allege  that the exchange was a "significant cybercrime and online money laundering entity," allowing its users to trade in bitcoin with high levels of
North Korea's Cyber Heist: DPRK Hackers Stole $600 Million in Cryptocurrency in 2023

North Korea's Cyber Heist: DPRK Hackers Stole $600 Million in Cryptocurrency in 2023

Jan 08, 2024 Cryptocurrency / Financial Crime
Threat actors affiliated with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (also known as North Korea) have plundered at least $600 million in cryptocurrency in 2023. The DPRK "was responsible for almost a third of all funds stolen in crypto attacks last year, despite a 30% reduction from the USD 850 million haul in 2022," blockchain analytics firm TRM Labs  said  last week. "Hacks perpetrated by the DPRK were on average ten times as damaging as those not linked to North Korea." There are indications that  additional breaches  targeting the crypto sector towards the end of 2023 could push this figure higher to around $700 million. The targeting of cryptocurrency companies is not new for North Korean state-sponsored actors, who have  stolen about $3 billion  since 2017. These financially motivated attacks are seen as a crucial revenue-generation mechanism for the sanctions-hit nation, funding its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile program
German Authorities Dismantle Dark Web Hub 'Kingdom Market' in Global Operation

German Authorities Dismantle Dark Web Hub 'Kingdom Market' in Global Operation

Dec 21, 2023 Dark Web / Cybercrime
German law enforcement has announced the disruption of a dark web platform called  Kingdom Market  that specialized in the sales of narcotics and malware to "tens of thousands of users." The  exercise , which involved collaboration from authorities from the U.S., Switzerland, Moldova, and Ukraine, began on December 16, 2023, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said. Kingdom Market is said to have been accessible over the TOR and Invisible Internet Project (I2P) anonymization networks since at least March 2021, trafficking in illegal narcotics as well as advertising malware, criminal services, and forged documents. As many as 42,000 products have been sold via several hundred seller accounts on the English language platform prior to its takedown, with 3,600 of them originating from Germany.  Transactions on the Kingdom Market were facilitated through cryptocurrency payments in the form of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Monero, and Zcash, with the website operators receiving a 3
Four U.S. Nationals Charged in $80 Million Pig Butchering Crypto Scam

Four U.S. Nationals Charged in $80 Million Pig Butchering Crypto Scam

Dec 18, 2023 Cryptocurrency / Online Scam
Four U.S. nationals have been charged for participating in an illicit scheme that earned them more than $80 million via cryptocurrency investment scams. The defendants – Lu Zhang, 36, of Alhambra, California; Justin Walker, 31, of Cypress, California; Joseph Wong, 32, Rosemead, California; and Hailong Zhu, 40, Naperville, Illinois – have been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, concealment money laundering, and international money laundering. The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), which announced the arrests of both Zhang and Walker in connection with the fraudulent operation, said the quartet opened shell companies and bank accounts to carry out  pig butchering scams , transferring the ill-gotten funds to domestic and international financial entities. If convicted, Zhang and Walker face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Their alleged co-conspirators remain at large. "The overall fraud scheme in the related pig-butchering syndicate involved at least 284
Founder of Bitzlato Cryptocurrency Exchange Pleads Guilty in Money-Laundering Scheme

Founder of Bitzlato Cryptocurrency Exchange Pleads Guilty in Money-Laundering Scheme

Dec 08, 2023 Cryptocurrency / Cyber Crime
The Russian founder of the now-defunct Bitzlato cryptocurrency exchange has pleaded guilty, nearly 11 months after he was  arrested in Miami  earlier this year. Anatoly Legkodymov (aka Anatolii Legkodymov, Gandalf, and Tolik), according to the U.S. Justice Department, admitted to operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business that enabled other criminal actors to launder their illicit proceeds. He faces up to five years in prison. "Legkodymov operated a cryptocurrency exchange that was open for business to money launderers and other criminals,"  said  Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "He profited from catering to criminals, and now he must pay the price. Transacting in cryptocurrency does not put you beyond the reach of the law." Bitzlato, which served as a safe haven for fraudsters and ransomware crews such as  Conti , is estimated to have received $2.5 billion in cryptocurrency bet
CACTUS Ransomware Exploits Qlik Sense Vulnerabilities in Targeted Attacks

CACTUS Ransomware Exploits Qlik Sense Vulnerabilities in Targeted Attacks

Nov 30, 2023 Ransomware / Vulnerability
A  CACTUS ransomware campaign  has been observed exploiting recently disclosed security flaws in a cloud analytics and business intelligence platform called Qlik Sense to obtain a foothold into targeted environments. "This campaign marks the first documented instance [...] where threat actors deploying CACTUS ransomware have exploited vulnerabilities in Qlik Sense for initial access," Arctic Wolf researchers Stefan Hostetler, Markus Neis, and Kyle Pagelow  said . The cybersecurity company, which said it's responding to "several instances" of exploitation of the software, noted that the attacks are likely taking advantage of three flaws that have been disclosed over the past three months - CVE-2023-41265  (CVSS score: 9.9) - An HTTP Request Tunneling vulnerability that allows a remote attacker to elevate their privilege and send requests that get executed by the backend server hosting the repository application. CVE-2023-41266  (CVSS score: 6.5) - A path tr
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