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Russia arrests 14 accused of REvil ransomware attacks

Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Russian intelligence arrested members of the so-called REvil ransomware group, which "ceased to exist," the government said Friday, after it dismantled it.

Russia's Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, said it arrested 14 members of the ransomware gang acting upon information provided by the United States. The arrests were made at multiple locations across central Russia.

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The agency said it launched its investigation based on U.S. reports on the leader of the criminal organization and its malware attacks on foreign companies.

In addition to the arrests, the FSB said it seized millions of dollars in cash, luxury cars, computers and crypto wallets.

The U.S. State Department in July announced a $10 million reward for information identifying those responsible for cyberattacks on the government. Among the groups sought by the U.S. government was REvil, which earned $11 million from JBS USA, a food processing company, after they brought its meat processing plants in the United States and Australia to a halt.

NBC News cited experts who said Friday's arrests could be an effort to deflect attention away from rising tensions between Russia, Ukraine and the United States. Russia has stationed some 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine.

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U.S. government officials on Friday warned that Russia may be planning a false-flag operation to justify an invasion of Ukraine.

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