Suspected LockBit ransomware affiliate arrested, charged in US


Russian nationwide Ruslan Magomedovich Astamirov was arrested in Arizona and charged by the U.S. Justice Division for allegedly deploying LockBit ransomware on the networks of victims in the US and overseas.

In accordance with the prison grievance, the 20-year-old suspect from the Chechen Republic was allegedly concerned in LockBit ransomware assaults between August 2020 and March 2023.

“Astamirov allegedly participated in a conspiracy with different members of the LockBit ransomware marketing campaign to commit wire fraud and to deliberately harm protected computer systems and make ransom calls for by the use and deployment of ransomware,” US DOJ mentioned.

“Particularly, Astamirov straight executed no less than 5 assaults towards sufferer laptop methods in the US and overseas.”

Astamirov has been indicted on fees of conspiracy to transmit ransom calls for, commit wire fraud, and deliberately harm protected computer systems. 

If discovered responsible, he may resist 20 years in jail for the wire fraud cost and as much as 5 years in jail for the cost associated to damaging protected computer systems. 

The fees additionally carry the potential for fines as much as $250,000 or double the monetary acquire or loss ensuing from the offense, whichever is greater.

Third LockBit affiliate charged within the U.S. since November

Astamirov is the third LockBit affiliate the U.S. Justice Division charged within the final seven months.

In November 2022, the DOJ unveiled prison fees towards Mikhail Vasiliev, now in custody in Canada and awaiting extradition to the US. 

In Might 2023, Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev (also called Wazawaka, m1x, Boriselcin, and Uhodiransomwar) was additionally charged for his alleged involvement in deploying LockBit, Babuk, and Hive ransomware in assaults focusing on organizations inside and outdoors the US.

“Astamirov is the third defendant charged by this workplace within the LockBit world ransomware marketing campaign, and the second defendant to be apprehended,” mentioned U.S. Legal professional Philip R. Sellinger for the District of New Jersey. 

“The LockBit conspirators and every other ransomware perpetrators can not cover behind imagined on-line anonymity. We’ll proceed to work tirelessly with all our regulation enforcement companions to determine ransomware perpetrators and convey them to justice.”

LockBit ransomware emerged as a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operation in September 2019 and has claimed a number of high-profile victims worldwide in current months, together with the Continental automotive big, the UK Royal Mail, the Italian Inside Income Service, and the Metropolis of Oakland.

U.S. and worldwide cybersecurity authorities additionally revealed in a joint advisory printed on Wednesday that this ransomware gang extorted roughly $91 million from U.S. organizations that fell sufferer to roughly 1,700 assaults since 2020.

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