FBI Los Angeles
Public Affairs Specialist Laura Eimiller
(310) 996-3343
January 13, 2016

Electronic Crimes Task Force Collaborates with Europol to Target Bitcoin Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

Agents with the FBI and the United States Secret Service, assigned to the United Sates Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTF) in Los Angeles participated in an international operation that targeted a Distributed Denial of Service for Bitcoin group (DD4BC) believed to be responsible for threatening to attack the servers of various businesses if a ransom was not received, representatives with Europol announced this week (including law enforcement officials in Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria, France, Japan, Switzerland and Romania).

“Cyber crime is constantly evolving and its global nature forges international relationships to successfully target the perpetrators,” said David Bowdich, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “This case highlights the paradigm shift we continue to see involving traditional crimes migrating to cyberspace, and we will continue to educate and work with the business community to combat this growing crime trend.”

Agents with the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and agents with the United States Secret Service in Los Angeles, both members of the ECTF, coordinated efforts with the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California and Europol to target the group conducting the DD4BC and were able to trace Bitcoin ransom payments to the suspect in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The operation, dubbed Operation Pleiades, resulted in the identification of a suspect and the search of multiple locations overseas. The suspect, who allegedly received the proceeds of Bitcoin extortion payments paid by victims, was arrested and will be prosecuted in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To date, the DD4BC group has allegedly victimized more than 300 companies and has been associated with damages exceeding one million dollars.

“Transnational cyber criminals operate with impunity regardless of national borders,” said Special Agent in Charge L. Robert Savage, III of the Secret Service’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Cyber threats and attacks are increasing in frequency, scale, and sophistication. However, we are confident the partnerships we have formed though our ECTFs with our domestic and international law enforcement partners will continue to seek new and innovative ways to combat emerging cyber threats.”

DD4BC attacks have recently become widespread and agents with the FBI and the USSS are investigating a number of apparent copycat groups conducting similar attacks. The FBI and USSS officials encourage businesses that have been victimized to ignore ransom demands in order to avoid appearing vulnerable and to avoid being targeted again for a higher amount. Anyone who feels they have been a victim of a cyber crime involving extortion or denial of service attacks is encouraged to contact their local FBI or United States Secret Service Field Office or to file a complaint through the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

- Related Europol press release