Court Sentences Russian to Five Years in Prison for Involvement in Trickbot Malware

A Russian man, Vladimir Dunaev, has been sentenced to over five years in prison for his involvement in developing the Trickbot malware, which was used to extort businesses, including hospitals, during the COVID-19 pandemic, as announced by the US Justice Department.

Dunaev, aged 40, was extradited from South Korea to the United States in 2021 and pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy charges related to computer fraud, identity theft, wire fraud, and bank fraud. He hails from Amur Oblast in Russia and was sentenced to five years and four months in prison by a judge in Ohio.

Dunaev was one of nine Russians indicted in the United States for their roles in Trickbot, some of whom are believed to have connections to Russian intelligence services. According to the Justice Department, Dunaev provided specialized technical services to advance the Trickbot scheme, including the development and deployment of ransomware targeting American hospitals, schools, and businesses.

US Attorney Rebecca Lutzko emphasized the significant disruption and financial damage caused by Dunaev and his co-defendants, who infected millions of computers worldwide with Trickbot malware.

Trickbot, in conjunction with ransomware known as Conti, targeted hundreds of victims in the United States and over 30 other countries since 2016, stealing bank account credentials and causing extensive financial losses. The operation is estimated to have generated at least $180 million globally.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Trickbot specifically targeted hospitals and healthcare services, encrypting data and demanding hefty ransom payments in cryptocurrency for its release. Incidents included disrupting medical facilities in Minnesota, local government services in Tennessee, and a California hospital network, Scripps Health, among others.

Another member of the Trickbot group, Alla Witte, a Latvian national, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and was extradited from Suriname. Witte assisted in developing Trickbot and laundering ransomware proceeds, receiving a prison sentence of two years and eight months.