Alexander Vinnik – a Russian national that a few years back, was sentenced to spending five years in a Paris prison for crypto crimes – is being sent from Greece to the United States where he will face trial and possible sentencing for his role in a crypto scam that may have cost investors millions of dollars.
Vinnik Is Coming to America
Vinnik has been accused of various hacking and extortion schemes. He has also been accused of running a multibillion-dollar crypto exchange that ultimately went kaput and cost investors all their hard-earned dough. In addition, it is alleged Vinnik has worked with some of the shadiest people in the industry from ransomware gangs to drug dealers to identity thieves.
In the United States, Vinnik is likely to face judgement in a northern California court, where he stands accused of money laundering and running an unlicensed money services firm within the nation.
The plight of Vinnik has gone on for several years. Now in his 40s, his extradition to the U.S. is considered a major win for America given the fight the country likely had to undergo with Russia. No doubt something like this will happen again in the coming weeks now that Brittney Griner is being held within Russia’s confines after being sentenced to more than nine years in prison for drug charges.
Vinnik’s lawyer in France Frederic Belot said his client is on a plane from Athens, Greece to the United States. Following his arrival, he will make his first official court appearance in northern California. Belot says that Vinnik is maintaining his innocence and hopes the new court system will help to clarify the situation and his stained reputation.
Vinnik initially found work many years ago with a now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange known as BTC-e. During his time with the company, it is believed the Russian national may have developed a new type of malware known as “Locky,” which was then used to steal as much as $150 million in assorted funds from several digital exchanges around the world. Not long after, BTC-e vanished and went out of business, and Vinnik – while vacationing in Greece – was taken into custody by law enforcement agents.
This Is a Long and Lengthy Ordeal
At the time of his arrest, Vinnik was wanted in several regions including the U.S., France, and Russia. France got to him first, trying him and eventually sentencing him to five years back in December of 2020.
Locky was allegedly delivered through email servers, where it was downloaded by unsuspecting users. The malware encrypted data and requested bitcoin ransoms in exchange for access. It is believed that as many as 20 separate Locky attacks occurred between 2016 and 2018 alone. In addition, payments were usually requested through BTC-e, which Vinnik was obviously working for at the time.
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