Man charged for facilitating Netwalker ransomware that stole 5,000 bitcoin

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Authorities in Poland and the US have taken down a ‘bulletproof’ hosting provider called Lolek, seized its servers, and arrested five individuals allegedly behind the operation that allowed Netwalker ransomware attacks and other cybercrimes to occur. 

A ‘bulletproof’ hosting provider like Lolek provides secure web hosting for nefarious purposes like ransomware, brute-force attacks, and phishing. It claimed to be a “100% privacy hosting” platform that didn’t log any activity that could be used to identify its users. “Everything except child porn” was allowed, Lolek advertised.

Europol announced last week that the Polish Central Cybercrime Bureau arrested five administrators and seized its servers following a “complex investigation supported by Europol and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).” The platform’s site was seized by the FBI and IRS.

“This domain has been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service — Criminal Investigation as part of a coordinated law enforcement action taken against LOLEK HOSTED,” the website now reads.

On Thursday, an indictment was unsealed in Tampa, Florida that charged Polish national Artur Karol Grabowski for operating Lolek. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) accused Grabowski of computer fraud conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and international money laundering in a statement released the following day.

Lolek is no more (image via Bleeping Computer).

Read more: Canadian hacker found with over 700 bitcoin sentenced to 20 years

According to the DoJ, Lolek facilitated the Netwalker ransomware which affected 400 networks in hospitals, schools, and emergency services that resulted in over 5,000 bitcoin in ransom payments — over $145 million at press time.

“LolekHosted clients used its services to execute approximately 50 Netwalker ransomware attacks on victims located all over the world, including in the Middle District of Florida. Specifically, clients used the servers of LolekHosted as intermediaries when gaining unauthorized access to victim networks, and to store hacking tools and data stolen from victims,” the DoJ said.

Grabowski faces up to 45 years in prison if found guilty on all charges. The US is seeking $21.5 million in forfeiture from him yet he remains at large.

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