A Russian citizen has been charged with his alleged involvement in the crime cyber attacks against law enforcement agencies, government agencies, hospitals and schools. The US Department of Justice on Tuesday dropped two indictments against Mikhail Pavlovich Matveyev, known online as Wazavaka, alleging that he demanded a total of $400 million from his victims and received about $200 million in ransom.
“From its home base in Russia, Matveev allegedly deployed multiple ransomware variants to target critical infrastructure around the world, including hospitals, government agencies and victims in other sectors,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of Criminal des Justice Department’s division said in a DOJ press release. “These international crimes require a coordinated response. We will not back down and impose consequences on the worst actors in the cybercrime ecosystem.”
It is not believed that Matveyev acted alone, the statement said, which said he was a member of the lock bitBabuk and Hive ransomware Gangs “rank among the most active and destructive cybercrime threats in the world.” The Babuk gang is said to have done it used ransomware against the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC in 2021, infecting systems with spyware and stealing data to blackmail the department. The MPD was threatened with disclosure of sensitive information unless she paid the ransom. Matveev is also accused of committing a number of ransomware crimes, including multiple lockbit attacks against a New Jersey police department and nonprofit behavioral health organization.
The attacks first began in January 2020 when the Lockbit ransomware group emerged, and have not done so since carried out more than 1,400 attacks worldwide and received more than $75 million in ransom payments. Babuk emerged in December of the same year and carried out around 65 ransomware attacks worldwide Received at least $13 million in payments. Hive was the last group to launch ransomware attacks from June 2021, estimated to have had an impact According to the US Department of Justice press release, there are 1,400 victims worldwide who have received at least $120 million in ransom payments.
The DOJ is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to Matveev’s arrest and/or conviction. Matveev is charged with conspiracy to transmit ransom demands, conspiracy to damage protected computers and intentionally damaging protected computers. If convicted, Matveev faces more than 20 years in prison.
“Thanks to the extraordinary investigative work of my office’s prosecutors and our FBI partners, Matveev is no longer hiding in the shadows — we have publicly identified his criminal acts and charged him with multiple federal felonies,” New Jersey District Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said in the Publication. “Today’s indictments should serve as a reminder to cybercriminals around the world – my office is dedicated to fighting cybercrime and will spare no resources to bring to justice those who use ransomware attacks against victims.”