A 26-year-old Ukrainian man is awaiting extradition from The Netherlands to the US on prices that he acted as a core developer for Raccoon, a well-liked “malware-as-a-service” providing that helped paying prospects steal passwords and monetary knowledge from hundreds of thousands of cybercrime victims. KrebsOnSecurity has realized that the defendant was busted in March 2022, after fleeing obligatory navy service in Ukraine within the weeks following the Russian invasion.
The U.S. Lawyer for the Western District of Texas unsealed an indictment final week that named Ukrainian nationwide Mark Sokolovsky because the core developer for the Raccoon Infostealer enterprise, which was marketed on a number of Russian-language cybercrime boards starting in 2019.
Raccoon was primarily a Internet-based management panel, the place — for $200 a month — prospects might get the most recent model of the Raccoon Infostealer malware, and work together with contaminated methods in actual time. Safety specialists say the passwords and different knowledge stolen by Raccoon malware had been usually resold to teams engaged in deploying ransomware.
Working with investigators in Italy and The Netherlands, U.S. authorities seized a duplicate of the server utilized by Raccoon to assist prospects handle their botnets. In response to the U.S. Justice Division, FBI brokers have recognized greater than 50 million distinctive credentials and types of identification (e mail addresses, financial institution accounts, cryptocurrency addresses, bank card numbers, and so on.) stolen with the assistance of Raccoon.
The unsealed indictment (PDF) doesn’t delve a lot into how investigators tied Sokolovsky to Raccoon, however two sources near the investigation shared extra details about that course of on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to debate the case publicly.
In response to these sources, U.S. authorities zeroed in on an operational safety mistake that the Raccoon developer made early on in his posts to the crime boards, connecting a Gmail account for a cybercrime discussion board id utilized by the Raccoon developer (“Photix”) to an Apple iCloud account belonging to Sokolovsky. For instance, the indictment features a photograph that investigators subpoenaed from Sokolovsky’s iCloud account that exhibits him posing with a number of stacks of bundled money.
When Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2022, Sokolovsky was residing in Kharkiv, a metropolis in northeast Ukraine that will quickly come below heavy artillery bombardment from Russian forces. Authorities monitoring Sokolovsky’s iCloud account had spent weeks watching him shuttle between Kharkiv and the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, however on Mar. 18, 2022, his cellphone immediately confirmed up in Poland.
Investigators realized from Polish border guards that Sokolovsky had fled Ukraine in a Porsche Cayenne together with a younger blond girl, leaving his mom and different household behind. The picture on the high of this submit was shared with U.S. investigators by Polish border safety officers, and it exhibits Sokolovsky leaving Poland for Germany on Mar. 18.
On the time, all able-bodied males of navy age had been required to report for service to assist repel the Russian invasion, and it will have been unlawful for Sokolovsky to go away Ukraine with out permission. However each sources stated investigators consider Sokolovsky bribed border guards to allow them to cross.
Authorities quickly tracked Sokolvsky’s cellphone by Germany and ultimately to The Netherlands, together with his feminine companion helpfully documenting each step of the journey on her Instagram account. Here’s a image she posted of the 2 embracing upon their arrival in Amsterdam’s Dam Sq.:
Authorities in The Netherlands arrested Sokolovsky on Mar. 20, and rapidly seized management over the Raccoon Infostealer infrastructure. In the meantime, on March 25 the accounts that had beforehand marketed the Raccoon Stealer malware on cybercrime boards introduced the service was closing down. The parting message to prospects stated nothing of an arrest, and as an alternative insinuated that the core members in control of the malware-as-a-service challenge had perished within the Russian invasion.
“Sadly, because of the ‘particular operation,’ we must shut our Raccoon Stealer challenge,” the crew introduced Mar. 25. “Our crew members who had been liable for essential parts of the product are not with us. Thanks for this expertise and time, for day-after-day, sadly the whole lot, ultimately, the top of the WORLD involves everybody.”
Sokolovsky’s extradition to the US has been granted, however he’s interesting that call. He faces one depend of conspiracy to commit laptop fraud; one depend of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; one depend of conspiracy to commit cash laundering, and one depend of aggravated id theft.
Sources inform KrebsOnSecurity that Sokolovsky has been consulting with Houston, Tx.-based legal professional F. Andino Reynal, the identical lawyer who represented Alex Jones within the current defamation lawsuit towards Jones and his conspiracy concept web site Infowars. Reynal was liable for what Jones himself known as the “Perry Mason” second of the trial, whereby the plaintiff’s lawyer revealed that Reynal had inadvertently given them a complete digital copy of Jones’s mobile phone. Mr. Reynal didn’t reply to requests for remark.
If convicted, Sokolovsky faces a most penalty of 20 years in jail for the wire fraud and cash laundering offenses, 5 years for the conspiracy to commit laptop fraud cost, and a compulsory consecutive two-year time period for the aggravated id theft offense.
The Justice Division has arrange an internet site — raccoon.ic3.gov — that enables guests to examine whether or not their e mail deal with exhibits up within the knowledge collected by the Raccoon Stealer service.