University of California Falls Prey to $1.15M Crypto Ransom Scam

It's no secret that the crypto industry is full of scams, hacks, and other nefarious activities, as the decentralized and private nature of many digital assets is conducive to this type of business.

The youngest group to fall victim to one of these scams is a school within the system of the University of California that has paid an online gang $ 1.14 million to access files that are exposed to malware due to malware on your computer system, have been encrypted.

UC San Francisco pays Cyber ​​Gang $ 1.15 million in crypto

According to a recent report from the BBC – who was following the conversation between the two parties thanks to an anonymous source – the criminal Netwalker gang extorted over $ 1 million from Bitcoin from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) earlier this month.

Shortly after the malware infected the university's computer system, the IT department was directed to a page on the dark internet that resembled a standard customer service page.


Netwalker's website. Image courtesy of BBC News

They then engaged the criminals in a conversation on the website, instructing them to pay $ 3 million to crypto to restore access to their files and computers. Otherwise all files would be deleted, they threatened.

The university offered to pay $ 780,000, but the hackers claimed this wasn't enough considering the university was making "billions a year" and asked to pay $ 1.5 million in crypto .

The university eventually offered a total of $ 1,140,895 that the hackers accepted.

The next day, 116.4 bitcoin was transferred to the gang's crypto wallets.

These measures conflict with the recommendations of most law enforcement agencies around the world who argue against contacting or sending payments to any of these digital ransom rings.

Even so, the university claims that it was imperative to send the crypto because the locked files are valuable for the "good of the common good".

“The data that has been encrypted is important for some of the academic work that we as a university do for the common good. So we made the difficult decision to pay part of the ransom (around $ 1.14 million) to the people behind the malware attack … "

Here's why law enforcement speaks against sending crypto to ransom hackers

Ransom arrangements are common, and police officers remain passionate about the victims who send Bitcoin or other cryptos to these criminals.

Jan Op Gen Oorth – a Europol agent – said that paying the ransom only encourages more of it.

"Victims should not pay the ransom as it funds criminals and encourages them to continue their illegal activities."

Because crypto assets like Bitcoin can easily be sent through a "mixer" that makes tracking incredibly difficult, it is unlikely that victims who pay these organizations will ever be able to recover the stolen funds.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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