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The owner of ChronoPay and Russian cyber-criminal Pavel Vrublevsky, who served 2.5 years in prison, decided to extort money from Ukrainian banks

The owner and founder of the ChronoPay payment system in Russia, Pavel Vrublevsky, who stayed in a Russian prison for a cyber-attack on the payment system of the Aeroflot Airline for more than two years, decided to commit new cybercrimes while distributing malware, working with porn websites, as well as performing extortion, and blackmailing businesses and managers via his BadBank Telegram channel.

Russian Vedomosti newspaper informs that Pavel Vrublevsky pleaded guilty to a DDoS attack on the website of Assist Company. This company is one of the key competitors of ChronoPay. As a result of the attack, it lost a contract with Aeroflot.  All popular Russian and foreign media wrote numerous articles about the crime and punishment for Pavel Vrublevsky and his cybergang.

In the Russian Federation, Pavel Vrublevsky has been blackmailing financial companies, banks, and individuals for several months, demanding tens and hundreds of thousands of US dollars for non-disclosure of confidential information. He works “under surveillance” of the Russian special services, in particular, the FSB since he has already been brought to criminal responsibility and made a deal with law enforcement agencies. He also receives some of the information from them.

According to Russian media and Telegram channels, he extorted money from several banks and other financial institutions.  In case of refusal to pay, the extortionist resorted to various schemes of blackmailing, as well as outright slander against intractable partners in the media and social networks. In addition, Russian media write that Sergei Maizus and Alexei Nikitenko maybe his accomplices in extortion and blackmail.

It is known that several times Pavel Vrublevsky came out with a proposal to one of the payment systems to pay him a monthly subscription fee for nondisclosure of the facts of the company’s professional and commercial activities that became known to him.  Otherwise, he threatened to publish this information, including unreliable data, on dubious websites and the BadBank telegram channel.

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It is also known that top managers of the Russian Uralsib Bank suffered from his actions.  The law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation have already opened criminal cases on the fact of extortion and laundering of dirty funds by the ChronoPay company of Pavel Vrublevsky.

According to the Russian media, the Bank of Russia revoked the banking license of the “Platezhniy Standard” Non-Bank Credit Organization LLC that was used by ChronoPay to launder dirty money from illegal online casinos in Russia, the sale of pornography, and other sources.

In addition, as the Bank of Russia reported in the media, “Platezhniy Standard” was suspected of financing terrorism since the organization was associated with dubious operations in the field of transactions and cash withdrawals.

Just a few weeks ago, apparently “inspired” by the success in the field of blackmailing, Pavel Vrublevsky decided to enter the markets of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Latvia, and even China and African countries.

In other words, he simply decided to engage in banal blackmailing of financial institutions and bankers in these countries.

According to official sources in the Ukrainian financial technology market, Pavel Vrublevsky offered his services for silence to such Ukrainian banks as PrivatBank, Taskombank, UkrGasbank, Ibox Bank, Concord Bank, and other financial institutions. Talking with the representatives of the banking sector of Ukraine, Vrublevsky demands a monthly payment in the amount of 4 BTC per month to his Bitcoin wallet for not spreading slander. The heads of Ukrainian banks collectively filed an appeal to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the SBU about the activities of the cyber fraudster Vrublevsky. Andrey Mudryi from the Ukrainian Association of Finances and Innovation commented on the demands of the cyber-extortionist: “Vrublevsky simply does not know international law and does not understand how the activities of financial technologies in Ukraine are regulated. The Central Bank of the Russian Federation has never influenced or regulated foreign banks abroad.”

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“Furthermore, international payment systems (Visa, Mastercard, China UnionPay) and their rules clearly explain the transparency of cross-border payments and the legal field of the transactions. I am sure that the avarice of Mr. Vrublevsky’s knowledge played a cruel joke with him once again,” said Mikhail Voroshilov from the Ukrainian Association of Payment Systems.

It is worth noting that just a few years ago, well-known security expert Brian Krebs accused the ChronoPay processing company and its owner Pavel Vrublevsky of participating in attacks on Mac users using the Mac Defender fake anti-virus software.

It is also known that back in 2010, a member of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Ilya Ponomarev, sent a deputy’s request to the head of the Investigative Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  The official claimed that Vrublevsky is well-known on the Internet under the RedEye nickname, that he owns a network of porn websites, forum for porn webmasters, and an illegal payment system called  Forbes magazine wrote a long article about the porn business of RedEye in 2006.  The fact that Vrublevsky and RedEye are the same person has been repeatedly confirmed by an independent expert and author of the Krebs security blog, Brian Krebs.

For his new crimes, including extortion and money laundering, Pavel Vrublevsky can serve in a Russian prison for at least another 5-10 years, as well as a similar term in Ukraine.

He may escape to another country. However, according to Russian journalists, cybercrimes, including extortion, have no nationality.  In the majority of cases, attackers cannot hide in other countries. It is worth noting that even local authorities are not happy to see such people in their country unless they are handcuffed.

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Experts also note that unlike Russia, where gambling is practically banned, Ukraine adopted a law on the legalization of gambling last year. This law was supported by the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky and the Verkhovna Rada. Therefore, companies and financial organizations that work in this area do not need to be afraid of blackmailers from a neighboring country.

“Thousands of underground casinos have been closed all over the country. Now, the law on the legalization of gambling has been adopted. Companies, which were on the sidelines for years will get their first licenses next year. In addition, they should bring UAH 5 billion to the budget,” said Vladimir Zelensky last year. This money will go to the medical and educational sectors of the Ukrainian economy.