U.S. law enforcement officials from the Justice Department on Monday announced the seizure of $2.3 million dollars worth of crypto assets that were paid to the Colonial Pipeline hackers. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco explained during a news conference that federal agents “recaptured the majority of the ransom Colonial paid to the Darkside network.”
FBI Recovers Private Key for Over 63 Bitcoin, Investigator Says Real-Time Blockchain Surveillance Used
On May 14, Bitcoin.com News reported on the Darkside network of hackers extorting Colonial Pipeline for close to $5 million. Last month, Colonial’s CEO said the firm authorized the payment of around $4.4 million in digital assets.
The Department of Justice noted on Monday that the full amount of the seizure was 63.7 bitcoins valued at approximately $2.3 million at the time of capture.
An affidavit filed on June 7, 2021, by an agent working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).“Earlier today, the Department of Justice has found and recaptured the majority of the ransom Colonial paid to the Darkside network in the wake of last month’s ransomware attack,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco remarked during today’s news conference. Ransomware attacks are always unacceptable— but when they target critical infrastructure, we will spare no effort in our response,” she added.
Monaco continued by explaining the federal agents have flipped the script on the notorious hacker gang. “Today, we turned the tables on Darkside,” Monaco insisted. “By going after the entire ecosystem that fuels ransomware and digital extortion attacks, including criminal proceeds in the form of digital currency, we will continue to use all of our tools, and all of our resources to increase the cost and the consequences of ransomware attacks and other cyber-enabled attacks.”
“The private key for the Subject Address is in the possession of the FBI in the Northern District of California,” explains an FBI agent’s affidavit filed on June 7, 2021.
William Callahan, the director of Government and Strategic Affairs at Blockchain Intelligence Group (CSE: BIGG) wrote to Bitcoin.com News about the FBI’s seizure.
“From the moment the FBI received the intelligence that an illicit actor was threatening to shut down the Colonial Pipeline, a direct threat to our national security, and affecting millions of people along the east coast, teams of federal agents, intelligence analysts, and prosecutors from the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and other branches of government focused on the basics techniques criminal investigators do in all financial-related crimes, ‘follow the money.’ While these are basic techniques, cryptocurrency investigations training and analysis requires advanced tools and learning” Callahan told our newsdesk.
A visualization of the Darkside wallet provided to Bitcoin.com News by Blockchain Intelligence Group. “With the case of Colonial, investigators ‘followed the coin,’ by exploiting data contained on the Bitcoin blockchain, a public ledger,” the Blockchain Intelligence Group investigator Callahan added. “Investigators and analysts conduct surveillance by utilizing software to track and trace the flow of the bitcoin to conduct real-time surveillance of [transactions]. This type of software, together with traditional investigative techniques and working with our foreign law enforcement counterparts is necessary to disrupt and dismantle these ransomware gangs.”
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