Ukrainian law enforcement has uncovered a criminal cycle specialized in cryptocurrency theft and money laundering for hackers. The gang, which serves clients on Darknet, has been disbanded as a result of a joint operation with the United States.
Cybercriminals launder millions from Ukraine, offering flash drives with crypto malware
The Cyber Security Department (SBU) of Ukraine’s Security Service recently identified a group of individuals who smuggled millions of dollars from darknet sources, the agency announced. Ukrainians are legalizing illegal funds on behalf of international hackers, SBU said in a press release issued Monday.
For money laundering, the suspects organized a large-scale scheme involving fake online identities and fictitious individuals. Investigators were able to establish that the funds were transferred through various financial services. Most of the customers were hackers engaged in cyber theft and attacks on banking systems in different parts of the world.
Criminal gang members were selling flash drives containing viruses designed to compromise digital wallets and steal cryptocurrencies. The operation, carried out with the help of U.S. agencies with the participation of the Ukrainian National Police and the Prosecutor General’s Office, led to a search of the addresses in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv. Authorities seized computer equipment, malicious software, paperwork and cash.
SBU explained that the information and materials collected are currently being analyzed for the trial of all responsible persons, including foreign clients of Ukrainian criminals. Law enforcement did not provide details on the number of people involved or whether they had been arrested.
Ukraine, which has become a leader in adopting crypto to legalize cryptocurrency in recent years, has seen an increase in crypto-related crime. Ukraine’s security services have been pursuing illegal miners this year and shut down crypto firms in various parts of the country. In August, SBU blocked several online crypto exchangers for allegedly sending money to Russia.
Earlier this month, South Korean police announced a joint operation with Interpol and the FBI to disrupt another Ukraine-based criminal network accused of snatching bitcoin through ransomware attacks on Korean universities and businesses. According to an announcement by the National Investigation Office, citing Korean public broadcaster KBS, law enforcement agencies raided 21 locations in Kiev last June and arrested six people.
The attacks took place in 2019, when four South Korean academic institutions and organizations were blackmailed into providing bitcoin worth 4.5 billion won (more than 3.8 million) to decrypt their computer systems. Although current Ukrainian law makes it difficult to extradite criminals, Seoul authorities have asked Interpol to issue red notices for two suspects who could end up in Korean custody if they leave the country, the report said.
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