The increasing exploitation of the crypto industry by criminals has been concerning regulators across the globe. In the ever-advancing digital world, all individuals are at risk from cyber-related threats.
Cybercriminals are leveraging vehicles such as crypto/blockchain and other technologies to find sophisticated ways of committing online crypto frauds, money laundering, terrorist funding, and ransomware attacks. In a recent revelation, a senior doctor in the United States has been sentenced to imprisonment by the court for his involvement in a crime on the dark web.
William Fremming Nielsen, a senior district judge, has sentenced the 56-year-old American Ronald Craig IIg to eight years in federal prison. The latter hired hitmen on the Dark Web to kidnap his wife and beat his former colleague and paid them over $60,000 worth of Bitcoin.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that the accused IIg will serve 96 months in federal prison and will be supervised for three years after his release along with $25,000 in restitution and $100,000 in penalties.
IIg is a former neonatologist from Spokane, Washington, and had hired hitmen on the dark web in 2021 for injuring a former professional colleague of his. He specifically requested the criminals to break the hands of the victim, paying them more than $2,000 worth of Bitcoin for the misdeed.
The next victim of IIg was his estranged wife as he instructed the wrongdoers to kidnap and inject her with heroin so she could drop divorce proceedings. He paid them approximately $60,000 worth of Bitcoins and promised a bonus upon completing the task. The FBI intercepted IIg’s messages on the dark web and started an investigation.
At first, the accused denied charges and falsely claimed that he paid the hitmen to kill him so that he could not hurt others. However, he didn’t stop there and sent a letter to a key case witness, begging her to marry him so that he could manipulate her to change her testimony in court.
He also tried to bribe the witness and promised her to pay the tuition fee for her children to attend St. Aloysius Catholic School and Gonzaga Preparatory School.
Judge Nielsen, who was hearing the case, penned the maximum sentence for the accused and described his crime as “really egregious and even evil.” He also said:
“A doctor’s goal in life is to protect people, keeping people alive – not taking overt steps to do the opposite.”
Vanessa Waldref, US attorney for the Eastern District of Washington said that this case demonstrates how violent individuals could exploit cyberspace and cryptocurrencies for their advantage and to finance their malicious intentions.
Richard Baker, assistant US attorney, said that the accused tried to profit from his crimes by selling the story to the media and appreciated the victims for their “incredible courage.” He also shed more light on the doctor’s plan and said:
“Even before Mr. Ilg sent his terrifying messages through the dark Web and paid more than $60,000 to multiple purported hitmen, Mr. Ilg sought to manipulate and maintain control his victims – sending them harassing text messages, placing GPS trackers on their cars, and even subjecting them to domestic abuse.”
The exploitation of cryptocurrencies by cybercriminals is becoming relatively common. In November, criminals hacked into the system of the largest medical institution in India and demanded a ransom of 200 crores ($24.5 million) in crypto.
In August, Todayq News reported a statement from the US DoJ for a suspect of Bitcoin money laundering.
A Russian citizen Denis Mihaqloviv Dubnikov was accused of employing a ransomware program that has been used to attack thousands of victims worldwide. Dubnikov and his accomplices, and other participants in the scheme allegedly carried out a variety of financial transactions, including international financial transactions, after receiving ransom payments to hide the nature, source, location, ownership, and control of the ransom proceeds.