BTC-e Exchange Operator’s Trail for Bitcoin Fraud Begins in Paris
The four-day trial of Alexander Vinnik, 41, alleged to have used ransomware in a $157 million (135 million euros) bitcoin fraud that involved 200 victims, began in Paris on Monday.
The Russian man who is wanted both in the US and Russia faces up to ten years in prison over charges of extortion, money laundering, and criminal association.
He was one of the creators of malware called “Locky” delivered through email, and if downloaded, it encrypts the recipient’s data, and then the affected party is asked to pay a ransom in BTC to free it, as per french prosecutors.
During the period of 2016 and 2018, several companies, local councils, and legal offices were targeted in France, and twenty of the victims paid the ransom through BTC-e.
A technical consultant at the digital currency exchange, Vinnik said he had no knowledge of the illegal activity and denied any wrongdoing.
The US also wants to prosecute him on the grounds of laundering billions of dollars through BTC-e.
Vinnik was arrested in the summer of 2017 in Greece, while on vacation with his family, at US authorities' request. After two years of tug-of-war, Greek authorities ruled that he would be extradited first to France, then to the United States, and then finally to Russia, where he faces lesser charges.