A Russian individual has been handed a prison term of five years and four months by an American federal court. The sentence is in response to his involvement in the creation of the TrickBot malware, a cyber threat exploited against various entities like businesses, educational institutions, and healthcare facilities nationwide.
In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Vladimir Dunaev made a guilty plea in December to a single count of plot to execute computer fraud as well as serious identity theft, in addition to one count of conspiracy to carry out wire and bank fraud. This 40-year-old individual confessed to offering specialized services and technological skills to advance TrickBot (refer to: TrickBot Developer Admits Guilt in US Court).
In the latter part of 2021, South Korea sent Dunaev back to his home country. On Thursday, Nicole Argentieri, who is currently serving as the Assistant Attorney General, expressed that the verdict showcases the department’s capacity to imprison cybercriminals, regardless of their geographical location.
Legal authorities reported that Dunaev created alterations to browsers and utilized various tools to gather login details and illicitly access systems remotely. This cyber intrusion led to the scamming of at least 10 individuals in northern Ohio, amounting to losses over $3.4 million through ransomware attacks.
U.S. Attorney Rebecca Lutzko stated that Dunaev was instrumental in creating and launching the malware, all the while remaining concealed behind his computer.
“She, along with her accomplices, inflicted incalculable disturbances and economic harm, malevolently spreading infections to millions of computers globally. Consequently, Dunaev will now face more than five years of imprisonment,” she further stated.
Although the legal team initially pushed for a punishment exceeding six years, the judge clarified during Dunaev’s sentencing that Dunaev wasn’t the mastermind behind the hacking collective, but rather held a position somewhere between the lower and middle ranks.
“Oliver expressed his understanding that a clear signal must be relayed to the other cyber intruders and participants of TrickBot,” as reported by a regional media source. “He didn’t oppose this notion. However, he voiced his concern that it might not be fair to place the entire burden on a defendant of this stature.”
Dunaev, along with six other individuals, was implicated in the TrickBot plot. Among the accused was Alla Witte, a Latvian national and malware creator. Witte confessed to plotting computer fraud and consequently received a sentence of almost three years behind bars.
In 2021, the infamous TrickBot was incorporated by the now non-operational Conti ransomware-as-a-service team. Following the dissolution of Conti’s operators in May 2022, they branched out into several factions, with some of them still actively utilizing code derived from TrickBot.