The US Department of Justice (DoJ) recently announced a $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest of alleged Russian ransomware mastermind Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev.
Acting under the moniker ‘Wazawaka,’ the suspect is accused of orchestrating high-profile cyberattacks against critical infrastructure such as law enforcement bodies, government agencies, hospitals and schools.
The alleged hacker is accused of demanding approximately $400 million from his victims, half of which was purportedly paid. The staggering revelations were part of two indictments unsealed Tuesday by the DoJ, which accuses Matveev of leading a high-tech campaign of extortion and contributing to the growing threat posed by ransomware worldwide.
“According to the indictment obtained in the District of New Jersey, from at least as early as 2020, Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev, aka Wazawaka, aka m1x, aka Boriselcin, aka Uhodiransomwar, allegedly participated in conspiracies to deploy three ransomware variants,” the DoJ said in a press release. “These variants are known as LockBit, Babuk, and Hive, and Matveev transmitted ransom demands in connection with each. The perpetrators behind each of these variants, including Matveev, have allegedly used these types of ransomware to attack thousands of victims in the United States and around the world.”
However, authorities believe the suspect didn’t act alone. According to the release, Matveev was an alleged member of the notorious Lockbit, Babuk and Hive ransomware gangs.
“Matveev is charged with conspiring to transmit ransom demands, conspiring to damage protected computers, and intentionally damaging protected computers. If convicted, he faces over 20 years in prison.”
Matveev's alleged exploits would mark him as one of the most prolific cybercriminals on record, amassing considerable wealth through illicit activities. His elusive nature has made him a high-priority target for international law enforcement, with the latest move by the DoJ indicating their increasing urgency to bring him to justice.
The significant financial incentive is hoped to spur international cooperation and lead to Matveev's capture. The case of Matveev, or 'Wazawaka,’ underscores the need for heightened cybersecurity measures and international cooperation in the fight against this evolving digital menace.
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