U.S. cracks down on Russian 'Evil Corp' hackers after $100 million spree

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. authorities on Thursday took aim at a Russian cybercriminal group known as Evil Corp, indicting its Lamborghini-driving alleged leader and ordering asset freezes against 17 of his associates over a digital crime spree that has netted more than $100 million from companies across the world.





Maksim Yakubets is seen on a wanted poster distributed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released in Washington, U.S. December 5, 2019. FBI/Handout via REUTERS




The action against Evil Corp., described by officials as one of the most damaging criminal organizations on the internet, comes with a $5 million bounty issued for information leading to the arrest of its alleged leader, Maksim Yakubets.


British authorities described the 32-year-old Yakubets as a supercar-lover who customized his Lamborghini license plate to read “Thief” in Russian and ran his operation from the basements of Moscow cafes.


“Yakubets is a true 21st century criminal,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said. “He’s earned his place on the FBI’s list of the world’s most wanted cyber criminals.”


Evil Corp is alleged to be behind an ever-evolving family of malicious software known Dridex, which has bedeviled banks and businesses since it first appeared in 2011. The malware works by hacking into banks and businesses and making rogue financial transfers that are eventually funneled back to the hackers.


Dridex targeted smaller businesses and organizations that lacked the sophisticated cyberdefenses of larger organizations, U.S. officials said.


Though the indictments only mentioned incidents in Nebraska and Pennsylvania, victims spanned the United States - including a dairy company in Ohio, a luggage company in New Mexico and a religious order in Nebraska, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich told a news conference.


Losses totaled $70 ..