Ukraine captures father and son in Lockbit cybercrime case

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Ukrainian police have arrested a father-son couple from the Lockbit cybercrime gang, which was dismantled earlier this week by a multinational law enforcement operation led by Britain’s National Crime Agency and the FBI.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian police announced the arrest of a father-son duo from the cybercrime gang Lockbit, which was disrupted earlier this week by an international law enforcement operation led by Britain’s National Crime Agency and the FBI.

The father and son, who were not identified by police, were wanted for deploying ransomware, malicious software intended to digitally extort victims, on “enterprises, state institutions, and health care institutions in France,” according to a statement from the National Police of Ukraine.

“Investigators conducted a number of searches at hackers’ residences in Ternopil, during which mobile phones and computer equipment used in illegal activities were seized,” according to the statement. Ternopil is a city in western Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the NCA, FBI, US Department of Justice, and Europol announced that a collaborative law enforcement operation known as “Operation Cronos” had disrupted the fundamental operations of Lockbit, one of the world’s most devastating cybercrime organizations.

The United States has charged two Russian citizens with using Lockbit’s ransomware tools to target corporations and groups around the world. Police in Poland and Ukraine have made two arrests, according to police agencies.

The arrests in Ukraine enabled law authorities to seize more than 200 cryptocurrency accounts and 34 servers used by the gang in the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, France, Switzerland, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, according to a Ukrainian police statement issued Wednesday.

“This made it possible to block the activities of the main hacking platform and other criminal critical infrastructure,” according to the statement.

Before being confiscated by police, Lockbit was able to extort many hacking victims at the same time via its website, which posted the names of compromised corporations and organizations next to a countdown timer that, when reached zero, would reveal a victim’s data unless a ransom was paid.

Operation Cronos was unprecedented in that police agencies took control of Lockbit’s website and used Lockbit’s own digital platform to disclose information about the group’s hidden inner workings.

The Ukrainian police said the investigations and arrests were taken out in response to a request from France.

According to a statement issued by France’s public prosecutor on Tuesday, France began investigating Lockbit in 2020 and is home to more than 200 of the gang’s victims, including hospitals, town halls, and businesses across the country. In January 2022, Lockbit claimed on its leak website that it had hacked France’s justice ministry.

On Wednesday, authorities in Poland identified the Lockbit gang member captured as a 38-year-old male from Warsaw. According to police comments and images, the arrest was made alongside members of a specialist French cyber police unit, just as it was in Ukraine.

According to a statement released by French police on Wednesday, the “Operation Cronos” squad was established under Europol in response to calls from French investigators.

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