On 28 September, a coordinated strike between the French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale), the Ukrainian National Police (Національна поліція України) and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with the coordination of Europol and INTERPOL, has led to the arrest in Ukraine of two prolific ransomware operators known for their extortionate ransom demands (between €5 to €70 million).
The action day also resulted in the seizure of $375,000 in cash and two luxury vehicles worth €217,000 as well as the freezing of $1.3 million in cryptocurrency assets.
The organized crime group is suspected of having committed a string of targeted attacks against very large industrial groups in Europe and North America from April 2020 onwards. The criminals would deploy malware and steal sensitive data from these companies, before encrypting their files. They would then proceed to offer a decryption key in return for a ransom payment of several millions of euros, threatening to leak the stolen data on the dark web should their demands not be met.
Close cooperation between the involved law enforcement authorities, supported by Europol’s Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT), led to the identification in Ukraine of these two individuals. Six investigators from the French Gendarmerie, four from the FBI, a prosecutor from the French Prosecution Office of Paris, two specialists from Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and one INTERPOL officer were deployed to Ukraine to jointly conduct investigative measures with the National Police.
Europol cybercrime specialists organized 12 coordination meetings to prepare for the action day, alongside providing analytical, malware, forensic and crypto-tracing support. A virtual command post was also set up by Europol to ensure seamless coordination between all the authorities involved.