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French court tries Russian for multi-million-euro cyberfraud

By AFP
October 20, 2020

PARIS: A Russian goes on trial in Paris on Monday accused of having defrauded nearly 200 victims across the world of 135 million euros using ransomware.

Prosecutors say Alexander Vinnik sent emails to his targets masquerading as invoices, whose attached document, when opened, activated malware that shut down the computer and encrypted its contents.

A message would appear on the hacked computer with instructions to pay a ransom in the online currency Bitcoin to regain control of the machine. Among the 188 victims of the attacks -- which happened between 2016 and 2018 -- were local authorities, businesses and individuals across the world.

In France, many of the victims were local councils, law or insurance firms and small local businesses such as driving schools or pharmacies. Vinnik, who has denied charges of extortion and money laundering, has refused to answer questions put by investigating magistrates. He is also wanted in both the United States and his native Russia.