Treasury Department

United States and United Kingdom Issue Joint Sanctions on Members of Russian Cybercrime Gang

By John A. Emmons
Thursday, February 9, 2023, 5:16 PM

On Feb. 9, 2023, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it had issued sanctions on seven members of the Russia-based “Trickbot” cybercrime gang in coordination with the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office; National Crime Agency; and His Majesty’s Treasury to disrupt Russian cybercrime and ransomware.

In a press release announcing the sanctions, the Treasury Department alleged that the seven designated members—Vitaly Kovalev, Maksim Mikhailov, Valentin Karyagin, Mikail Iskritskiy, Dmitry Pleshevskiy, Ivan Vakhromeyev, and Valery Sedletski—are connected to Russian Intelligence Services, and deployed ransomware to target critical infrastructure in the United States and United Kingdom. 

You can read the U.S. press release here, as well as the  press release from U.K. authorities here, or below:


FEBRUARY 9, 2023

United States and United Kingdom Sanction Members of Russia-Based Trickbot Cybercrime Gang

The United States and United Kingdom issue historic joint cyber sanctions

WASHINGTON — Today, the United States, in coordination with the United Kingdom, is designating seven individuals who are part of the Russia-based cybercrime gang Trickbot. This action represents the very first sanctions of their kind for the U.K., and result from a collaborative partnership between the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office; National Crime Agency; and His Majesty’s Treasury to disrupt Russian cybercrime and ransomware.

“Cyber criminals, particularly those based in Russia, seek to attack critical infrastructure, target U.S. businesses, and exploit the international financial system,” said Under Secretary Brian E. Nelson.  “The United States is taking action today in partnership with the United Kingdom because international cooperation is key to addressing Russian cybercrime.”

Russia is a haven for cybercriminals, where groups such as Trickbot freely perpetrate malicious cyber activities against the U.S., the U.K., and allies and partners. These malicious cyber activities have targeted critical infrastructure, including hospitals and medical facilities during a global pandemic, in both the U.S. and the U.K. Last month, Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) identified a Russia-based virtual currency exchange, Bitzlato Limited, as a “primary money laundering concern” in connection with Russian illicit finance.  The United States and the United Kingdom are leaders in the global fight against cybercrime and are committed to using all available authorities and tools to defend against cyber threats.

This action follows other recent sanctions actions taken jointly by the U.S. and the U.K. including in the Russia and Burma programs, as well as last year’s multilateral action against the Kinahan Crime Group. It also reflects the finding from the 2021 Sanctions Review that sanctions are most effective when coordinated with international partners and highlights the deepened partnership between OFAC and the UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation.


Trickbot, first identified in 2016 by security researchers, was a trojan virus that evolved from the Dyre trojan. Dyre was an online banking trojan operated by individuals based in Moscow, Russia, that began targeting non-Russian businesses and entities in mid-2014.  Dyre and Trickbot were developed and operated by a group of cybercriminals to steal financial data. The Trickbot trojan viruses infected millions of victim computers worldwide, including those of U.S. businesses, and individual victims. It has since evolved into a highly modular malware suite that provides the Trickbot Group with the ability to conduct a variety of illegal cyber activities, including ransomware attacks. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Trickbot targeted hospitals and healthcare centers, launching a wave of ransomware attacks against hospitals across the United States. In one of these attacks, the Trickbot Group deployed ransomware against three Minnesota medical facilities, disrupting their computer networks and telephones, and causing a diversion of ambulances. Members of the Trickbot Group publicly gloated over the ease of targeting the medical facilities and the speed with which the ransoms were paid to the group.

Current members of the Trickbot Group are associated with Russian Intelligence Services. The Trickbot Group’s preparations in 2020 aligned them to Russian state objectives and targeting previously conducted by Russian Intelligence Services. This included targeting the U.S. government and U.S. companies.

Vitaly Kovalev was a senior figure within the Trickbot Group. Vitaly Kovalev is also known as the online monikers “Bentley” and “Ben”. Today, an indictment was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey charging Kovalev with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and eight counts of bank fraud in connection with a series of intrusions into victim bank accounts held at various U.S.-based financial institutions that occurred in 2009 and 2010, predating his involvement in Dyre or the Trickbot Group.

Maksim Mikhailov has been involved in development activity for the Trickbot Group. Maksim Mikhailov is also known as the online moniker “Baget”.

Valentin Karyagin has been involved in the development of ransomware and other malware projects. Valentin Karyagin is also known as the online moniker “Globus”.

Mikhail Iskritskiy has worked on money-laundering and fraud projects for the Trickbot Group. Mikhail Iskritskiy is also known as the online moniker “Tropa”.

Dmitry Pleshevskiy worked on injecting malicious code into websites to steal victims’ credentials. Dmitry Pleshevskiy is also known as the online moniker “Iseldor”.

Ivan Vakhromeyev has worked for the Trickbot Group as a manager. Ivan Vakhromeyev is also known as the online moniker “Mushroom”.

Valery Sedletski has worked as an administrator for the Trickbot Group, including managing servers. Valery Sedletski is also known as the online moniker “Strix”.

OFAC is designating each of these individuals pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, as amended by E.O. 13757, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, an activity described in subsection (a)(ii) of section 1 of E.O. 13694, as amended.


As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals designated today may themselves be exposed to designation. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the individuals or entities designated today could be subject to U.S. correspondent or payable-through account sanctions.

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from its ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please refer to OFAC’s website.

See OFAC’s Updated Advisory on Potential Sanctions Risk for Facilitating Ransomware Payments  for information on the actions that OFAC would consider to be mitigating factors in any related enforcement action involving ransomware payments with a potential sanctions risk. For information on complying with sanctions applicable to virtual currency, see OFAC’s Sanctions Compliance Guidance for the Virtual Currency Industry . See also the UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation’s recently issued Guidance on Financial Sanctions and Ransomware.

For more information on the individuals designated today, click here.

For more information on the United Kingdom’s action, click here.


9 February 2023

UK cracks down on ransomware actors

The UK has sanctioned 7 Russian cyber criminals through coordinated actions with the US government.

  • seven Russian nationals have assets frozen and travel bans imposed
  • ransomware is a tier 1 national security threat, with attacks against businesses and public sector organisations increasingly common. Recent victims include UK schools, local authorities and firms – whilst internationally the Irish Health Service Executive, Costa Rican government and American healthcare providers were targeted
  • new campaign of concerted action is being coordinated with the US, after 149 British victims of ransomware known as Conti and Ryuk were identified by the National Crime Agency (NCA)

Seven Russian cyber criminals have today (Thursday 9 February) been sanctioned by the UK and US in the first wave of new coordinated action against international cyber crime. These individuals have been associated with the development or deployment of a range of ransomware strains which have targeted the UK and US.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said:

By sanctioning these cyber criminals, we are sending a clear signal to them and others involved in ransomware that they will be held to account.

These cynical cyber attacks cause real damage to people’s lives and livelihoods. We will always put our national security first by protecting the UK and our allies from serious organised crime – whatever its form and wherever it originates.

Ransomware criminals specifically target the systems of organisations they judge will pay them the most money and time their attacks to cause maximum damage, including targeting hospitals in the middle of the pandemic.

Ransomware groups known as Conti, Wizard Spider, UNC1878, Gold Blackburn, Trickman and Trickbot have been responsible for the development and deployment of: Trickbot, Anchor, BazarLoader, BazarBackdoor as well as the ransomware strains Conti and Diavol. They are also involved in the deployment of Ryuk ransomware.

The ransomware strains known as Conti and Ryuk affected 149 UK individuals and businesses. The ransomware was responsible for extricating at least an estimated £27 million. There were 104 UK victims of the Conti strain who paid approximately £10 million and 45 victims of the Ryuk strain who paid approximately £17 million.

Conti was behind attacks that targeted hospitals, schools, businesses and local authorities, including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.  The group behind Conti extorted $180 million in ransomware in 2021 alone, according to research from Chainalysis.

Conti was one of the first cyber crime groups to back Russia’s war in Ukraine, voicing their support for the Kremlin within 24 hours of the invasion.

Although the ransomware group responsible for Conti disbanded in May 2022, reporting suggests members of the group continue to be involved in some of the most notorious new ransomware strains that dominate and threaten UK security.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said:

We’re targeting cyber criminals who have been involved in some of the most prolific and damaging forms of ransomware. Ransomware criminals have hit hospitals and schools, hurt many and disrupted lives, at great expense to the taxpayer.

Cyber crime knows no boundaries and threatens our national security. These sanctions identify and expose those responsible.

A wide range of organisations have been targeted by ransomware criminals, including at least 10 schools and universities in the UK, as well as hospitals, a forensic laboratory and local authorities. The Government of Costa Rica was also targeted last year.

Ireland’s Health Service Executive were targeted by ransomware actors during the COVID pandemic, leading to disruption to blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, radiotherapy and chemotherapy appointments over 10 days.

Another recent ransomware attack included Harrogate-based transportation and cold storage firm Reed Boardall whose IT systems were under attack for nearly a week in 2021.

These sanctions follow a complex, large-scale and ongoing investigation led by the NCA, which will continue to pursue all investigative lines of enquiry to disrupt the ransomware threat to the UK in collaboration with partners.

National Crime Agency Director-General Graeme Biggar said:

This is a hugely significant moment for the UK and our collaborative efforts with the US to disrupt international cyber criminals.

The sanctions are the first of their kind for the UK and signal the continuing campaign targeting those responsible for some of the most sophisticated and damaging ransomware that has impacted the UK and our allies. They show that these criminals and those that support them are not immune to UK action, and this is just one tool we will use to crack down on this threat and protect the public.

This is an excellent example of the dedication and expertise of the NCA team who have worked closely with partners on this complex investigation. We will continue to deploy our unique capabilities to expose cyber criminals and work alongside our international partners to hold those responsible to account, wherever they are in the world.

UK and US authorities will continue to expose these cyber criminals and crack down on their activities. This announcement of sanctions against 7 individuals marks the start of a campaign of coordinated action against ransomware actors being led by the UK and US.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of GCHQ, has assessed that:

  • it is almost certain that the Conti group were primarily financially motivated and chose their targets based on the perceived value they could extort from them
  • key group members highly likely maintain links to the Russian Intelligence Services from whom they have likely received tasking. The targeting of certain organisations, such as the International Olympic Committee, by the group almost certainly aligns with Russian state objectives
  • it is highly likely that the group evolved from previous cyber organised crime groups and likely have extensive links to other cyber criminals, notably EvilCorp and those responsible for Ryuk ransomware

NCSC Chief Executive Officer Lindy Cameron said:

Ransomware is the most acute cyber threat facing the UK, and attacks by criminal groups show just how devastating its impact can be.

The NCSC is working with partners to bear down on ransomware attacks and those responsible, helping to prevent incidents and improve our collective resilience.

It is vital organisations take immediate steps to limit their risk by following the NCSC’s advice on how to put robust defences in place to protect their networks.

Victims of ransomware attacks should use the UK government’s Cyber Incident Signposting Site as soon as possible after an attack.

Today, the UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) are also publishing new public guidance which sets out the implications of these new sanctions in ransomware cases.

The individuals designated today are:

  • Vitaliy Kovalev
  • Valery Sedletski
  • Valentin Karyagin
  • Maksim Mikhailov
  • Dmitry Pleshevskiy
  • Mikhail Iskritskiy
  • Ivan Vakhromeyev

Making funds available to the individuals such as paying ransomware, including in crypto assets, is prohibited under these sanctions. Organisations should have or should put in place robust cyber security and incident management systems in place to prevent and manage serious cyber incidents.

Read further guidance on UK sanctions relating to cyber activity and view the full UK Sanctions List.