Russian cybercriminal sentenced to more than 5 years

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A Russian national who admitted to aiding in the development of malicious software that infected millions of victims, including hospitals, schools and businesses, has been sentenced to more than five years' imprisonment, the Justice Department said.

Vladimir Dunaev, 40, pleaded guilty in November for his role in developing Trickbot, malicious software first identified in 2016 and which provided cybercriminals the ability to access infected computer systems where they could employ various tools to steal money or install ransomware.


Authorities took down Trickbot in 2022, but not before millions of computers were infected with the program, causing their owners to lose tens of millions of dollars.

Dunaev specifically developed browser modification and tools that aided in the credential harvesting and datamining of infected computers and wrote program code to make it more difficult for it to be detected as well as enhanced its ability to be remotely accessed by other cybercriminals.

Prosecutors said that during his participating in the scheme, Trickbot had 10 victims in the North District of Ohio alone, including schools and a real-estate company, which earned the cybercriminals more than $3.4 million.

For his involvement in the scheme, Dunaev was sentenced Wednesday to five years and four months behind bars, the Justice Department said in a release Thursday.


"Dunaev developed malicious ransomware and deployed it to attack American hospitals, schools and businesses in the Northern District of Ohio and throughout our country, all while hiding behind his computer," U.S. Attorney Rebecca Lutzko for the Northern District of Ohio said.

"He and his co-defendants caused immeasurable disruption and financial damage, maliciously infecting millions of computers worldwide, and Dunaev will now spend over five years behind bars as a result."

Dunaev was extradited to the United States from South Korea in October 2021 and was charged in a 47-count indictment that detailed how he and more than a dozen co-conspirators used Trickbot to harvest online banking login information and other personal information from infected computers.

After gaining access to the banking information of their victims, they would make unauthorized wire transfers. Money mules were then deployed to receive the wire transfers, which they would then forward on to members of the conspiracy.

Alla Witt, a Latvian native and a co-defendant in the indictment, also pleaded guilty, and was previously handed a sentenced of two years and eight months in prison.

The U.S. Treasury has also twice issued sanctions against Trickbot members, most recently in February.

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