Russian suspected of massive Bitcoin fraud convicted in France for money laundering

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A Russian wanted by the United States in connection with a massive bitcoin theft has been sentenced in France to five years in prison for money laundering.
Aleksandr Vinnik was sanctioned by a French court on December 7 after a lawsuit in which prosecutors presented a scheme involving emails disguised as invoices containing malware that would cripple the target’s computer. until a ransom is paid in cyber-currency.

They said a total of 188 people fell victim to the scheme between 2016 and 2018, earning Vinnik some $ 165 million.

While Vinnik was cleared of charges of random software attacks, he was convicted of laundering money he extorted through other software – called Locky – used in the attacks.

Vinnik claimed he was innocent of the charges and his lawyer said they would likely appeal the verdict.

The 41-year-old was arrested on a US arrest warrant in 2017 at a Greek beach where he was vacationing with his family.

Vinnik has been identified by US authorities and others as an administrator or manager of a “digital currency exchange” – where people can buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and others – known as the name of BTC-e.

The United States has accused Vinnik of exploiting BTC-e, one of the most popular websites for buying and selling bitcoin. US indictment alleged website lacked “basic anti-money laundering controls and policies,” making it one of the main ways cybercriminals around the world launder money .

The United States fought in a Greek court to secure Vinnik’s extradition, but Russia filed a concurrent extradition request, claiming he faced smaller and unrelated criminal charges in Russia.

If convicted in the United States, he faces up to 55 years in prison.

Halfway through the judicial struggle, however, France also filed for extradition in a Greek court on similar charges of theft, and in January he was transferred to Paris.

Vinnik was one of seven Russians detained or charged worldwide in 2018 for US cybercrime.

With reports from AFP and Interfax

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