September 16, 2020

Two Russian nationals indicted and sanctioned for alleged cryptocurrency platform attacks

On September 16, 2020, a February 2020 indictment against two Russian nationals, Danil Potekhin and Dmitrii Karasavidi, was unsealed.  The two men are charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, in violation of 18 USC § 1030(b); computer fraud, in violation of 18 USC § 1030(a)(4); conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 USC § 1349; money laundering conspiracy, in violation of 18 USC § 1956(h), in addition to two counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, Potekhin and Karasavidi used phishing and spoofing techniques to gain access to cryptocurrency accounts in the US and abroad, stole cryptocurrency from the accounts, manipulated the market for one digital currency, gaining at least $16.8 million from these alleged crimes and laundering the proceeds while attempting to conceal the nature and source of the funds.  The US has also filed civil and criminal forfeiture claims against assets traceable to the alleged conduct.

In a parallel action, the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury designated Potekhin and Karasavidi pursuant to Executive Order 13694, as amended by Executive Order 13757, for engaging in malicious cyber-enabled activities for private financial gain.  Following these designations, all US property of the designated individuals is blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with such property.

DOJ press release | US Dept of the Treasury press release | Superseding Indictment