- Bitcoin fraud case against Russian national to conclude in France.
- The accused is wanted in France, Russia and the United States.
- The accused identified Alexander Vinnik may see up to 10-years jail time.
Arrested in Greece and wanted by French, Russian and American officials, the Bitcoin fraud suspect Alexander Vinnik is expected to be slapped with a decade of jail time and as much as $888,634 in fine.
The jail-term and hefty fines were requested by the French prosecutors representing the authorities in this Bitcoin fraud case. The perpetrator was caught in the joint United States and Interpol operation in Greece. At the time of arrest, Vinnik was at large for over two years targeting computers using a Bitcoin ransomware dubbed Locky.
The 41-year-old has been charged with extortion, money laundering, and criminal association within France while prosecutors are demanding a non-bailable jail time during the case proceedings. The United States department of justice is now focused on curbing cryptocurrency Bitcoin scams by all means.
Details of Bitcoin fraud case against Vinnik
Vinnik has been responsible for a series of attacks from 2016 to 2018. The target of these attacks were French business owners and different organizations. The Bitcoin fraud was carried out using ransomware software. As most ransomware work, Vinnik’s Bitcoin fraud involved using email delivery to encrypt and lock away the data.
As many as 20 business owners and institutions area believed to have fallen prey to the Bitcoin fraud costing a whopping $160 million to the victims. Vinnik was arrested by Interpol in 2017 while on a family vacation in northern Greece, at the request of U.S. authorities. France, Russia and the United States had asked Greece earlier this year to extradite him to France, so that he would be within the legal borders of the European Union. He went on a hunger strike for 100 days while detained in Greece.
Vinnik pleads not-guilty in the Bitcoin fraud case
During an often tense week of court hearings in Paris, Vinnik’s main line of defense was that he was only a technical operator carrying out the instructions of BTC-e directors.
An investigator with the international police organization Interpol told the court that with the help of the U.S., which provided data from BTC-e, it appeared that most of the ransom payments were sent to an account that was linked to Vinnik,
Vinnik’s lawyer, Zoé Konstantopoulou, accused French prosecutors of being “ill-intentioned.” “There was no French investigation. The Americans said: it’s Vinnik… and said: ‘make sure he is being transferred to the U.S.,’” she told the court.
Vinnik, speaking in Russian, said “I am not guilty, I don’t have any relation with ‘Locky’.” He said the investigation had been “botched” and that his rights were not being respected. “The Americans handed over questionable documents to France,” he said. The verdict will come at a later date.