Former Microsoft Engineer Gets 18 Months in Prison for Role in Ransomware Scheme
A former Microsoft network engineer who was charged in April this year has now been sentensed to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to money laundering in connection with the Reveton ransomware.
Reveton malware is old ransomware, also known as scareware or police ransomware that instead of encrypting files locks the screen of victims’ computers and displays a message purporting to come from a national law enforcement agency.
The splash screen of the malware was designed to falsely tell unsuspecting victims that they have been caught doing illegal or malicious activities online or the law enforcement had found illegal material on their computer, forcing users to make pay a “fine” of $200-300 within 48 hours to regain access to their computers.
Raymond Odigie Uadiale, 41-year-old, who worked as a Microsoft network engineer, is not the actual author of the Reveton ransomware, but he helped the Reveton distributor, residing in the UK and identified as the online moniker “K!NG,” in cashing out ransom money collected from victims in the form of Green Dot MoneyPak prepaid vouchers.
Liberty Reserve was itself closed down by US authorities in May 2013, after its creator pleaded guilty to laundering hundreds of millions of dollars through the digital currency exchange and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In the Southern Florida US District Court on Monday, Uadiale was given an 18-month prison sentence and three years of supervised release, after he agreed to a plea agreement that dismissed the second count of substantive money laundering.
“The indictment charged Uadiale with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of substantive money laundering. As part of the plea agreement, the government dismissed the substantive count.”
“By cashing out and then laundering victim payments, Raymond Uadiale played an essential role in an international criminal operation that victimized unsuspecting Americans by infecting their computers with malicious ransomware,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski.
On Monday, a Florida judge sentenced a former Microsoft network engineer to 18 months in prison for his role in helping launder money obtained from victims of the Reveton ransomware.
The man, Raymond Odigie Uadiale, 41, was charged earlier this year in March, and pleaded guilty a month later, according to court documents obtained by Bleeping Computer.
Uadiale laundered money for Reveton ransomware distributor
According to a copy of the indictment and the factual proffer filed with the plea agreement, Uadiale admitted to helping cash ransom payments obtained by a cybercriminal known as “K!NG,” who at the time was distributing a copy of the Reveton ransomware.
This happened in the early days of ransomware, between October 2012 and March 2013. Back then, Bitcoin wasn’t the primary method of paying off ransomware infections.
Instead, Reveton operators asked victims to buy GreenDot MoneyPak vouchers, take the code on the voucher, and enter it in the Reveton panel that covered their screen to unlock access to their PCs.
Uadiale’s criminal activity predates his job at Microsoft
Uadiale worked with K!NG on laundering Reveton proceeds while he was a student at the Florida International University. He was hired by Microsoft in 2014, after his collaboration with K!NG ended. Authorities believe K!NG is a UK resident. Uadiale is a naturalized US citizen of Nigerian descent.
According to a revised figure, authorities said Uadiale sent $93,640 in Liberty Reserve dollars to his co-conspirator.
In addition to his prison sentence, Uadiale was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. He initially faced a prison term of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $500,000.