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BTC Thief’s Trial Begins

The man allegedly responsible for a ransomware system that has stolen over $157M, Alexander Vinnik, is now facing a Paris trial.

Vinnik Now Stands Before a Judge

Vinnik was initially part of a cryptocurrency exchange known as BTC-e. At some point, it was one of the world’s largest crypto trading companies.

ThrDuring time with the trading platform, he has served as a technical programmer. However, it is said that he has created a specific kind of ransomware while working with the company. It is known as “Locky,” the ransomware was then delivered thru email that has offered attachments to the users that, whenever downloaded, has forced the people to pay a bitcoin fee in exchange for access to their data, which the ransomware had encrypted.

It is a standard method utilized by the thieves to gather funds that they haven’t earned. Yet, the bitcoin space has been seeing millions of dollars in digital units that go down the drain because the encryption software is robust. The original data owners have no choice but to pay or negotiate a lesser price.

It has been alleged that Vinnik hasn’t utilized the ransomware on its own. Locky has potentially been delivered to different BTC-e customers that were being forced to paying out many bitcoin units for access to the computers, devices, and information; it was also said that Vinnik might have made off with an amount of $150M. BTC-e had since been closing its doors; however, it still leaves a total of 20 separate victims of the exchange with empty pockets.

It has been an adventure before he gets to France.

Vinnik was first prosecuted at the request of United States regulators. The arrest occurred in late 2017 when Vinnik was enjoying a vacation in Greece with his family. He is already facing up to ten years in prison in Paris and facing charges of money laundering, criminal association, and extortion, along with other things. He also faces the possibilities of being prosecuted in both the US and Russia, for he is wanted in both countries for theft and related cybercrimes.

After the said arrest, Vinnik has been extradited to France. He has been engaged in a 35-day hunger strike after being asked to be sent to Russia, where his charges were milder. The 41-year-old swears that he only ever served as a technical consultant for BTC-e and states that he did not know about the illegal activities that have allegedly been happening behind the curtains. Until now, he maintains his innocence.

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