Russian national arrested for malware conspiracy

August 25, 2020

By a Biometrica staff

A Russian national was arrested for conspiring to recruit an employee of a Nevada-based company to introduce malicious software into the company’s computer network, extract data from the network, and extort ransom from the company.

Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, a citizen of Russia, was charged with one count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer, the US Department of Justice said in a statement. The 27-year old was arrested on August 22 in Los Angeles and had his initial appearance before US Magistrate Judge Alexander F. MacKinnon, who ordered Kriuchkov detained pending trial.

From about July 15, 2020 to about August 22, 2020, Kriuchkov conspired with associates to recruit an employee of a company to introduce malware – i.e., malicious software programs designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system – into the company’s computer network.

The malware was meant to provide Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators with access to the company’s system, according to the complaint and statements made in court. After the malware was introduced, Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators planned to extract data from the network and then threaten to make the information public, unless the company paid their ransom demand.

Kriuchkov entered the US using his Russian passport and a tourist visa. He contacted and met with the employee numerous times to discuss the conspiracy, and promised to pay the employee $1 million after the malware was introduced. Kriuchkov also provided the employee with a burner phone, and instructed him to leave the burner phone in airplane mode until after the money was transferred.

After being contacted by the FBI, Kriuchkov drove overnight from Reno, Nevada, to Los Angeles.  Kriuchkov asked an acquaintance to purchase an airline ticket for him in an attempt to fly out of the country.