In a June 7th press release, the Department of Justice announced that the FBI has seized 63.7 bitcoins from a wallet that belonged to the DarkSide ransomware group. The seizure, that is valued around 2.5 million dollars, was authorized by the Northern District of California after the FBI was able to obtain the private key to unlock and gain access to the wallet.
“Following the money remains one of the most basic, yet powerful tools we have,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. The FBI was able to use a piece of software called “Blockchain Explorer” to track the ransom payment to a majority of the bitcoin payment to a wallet where it was eventually seized by the FBI.
Lisa goes on to state, “Pay attention now. Invest the resources now. Failure to do so could be the difference between being secure now – or a victim later.”
The DarkSide ransom group demanded a 75 bitcoins payment, currently valued around 3 million dollars, to unlock the Colonial Pipeline’s computer.
While the bitcoin was being transferred between wallets, approximately 11.3 BTC, around 450,000 dollars, was transferred to other wallets where they were deemed unrecoverable.
This seizure was conducted by the newly created Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force, whose purpose is to combat the growing number of ransomware and digital extortion attacks.
The press release states “The Task Force prioritizes the disruption, investigation, and prosecution of ransomware and digital extortion activity by tracking and dismantling the development and deployment of malware, identifying the cybercriminals responsible, and holding those individuals accountable for their crimes.”
You can watch the full 18-minute press release here