A Russian master hacker who claims to have cut off his own finger after losing a bet has been slapped with a $10m (£8m) bounty by US officials.
Mikhail Matveev, 30, of Kaliningrad, was accused on Tuesday of being one of the leading members of the Hive, LockBit and Babuk ransomware gangs.
LockBit was the Russian cybercrime gang which tried to extort Royal Mail for £66m in February after scrambling vital software at parcel sorting offices.
Matthew Graves, a lawyer at the Department of Justice, said: “Whether these criminals target law enforcement, other government agencies, or private companies like health care providers, we will use every tool at our disposal to prosecute and punish such offences.”
Royal Mail refused to pay the criminals, who had demanded a ransom in cryptocurrency in return for unscrambling the company’s printers.
Videos of Mr Matveev published by cyber security researcher Brian Krebs appear to show the Russian flaunting his hand, which is visibly missing an entire digit.
Mr Matveev, who uses the nickname Wazawaka, claimed he cut the finger off himself after losing a bet.
Mr Krebs said: “It’s unclear if that is the real story about how Wazawaka lost the ring finger on his left hand; his remaining fingers appear oddly crooked.”
Mr Matveev is also accused of playing a key part in stealing the home addresses of Washington DC police officers in 2021, as well as claiming to have acquired the true identities of hundreds of police informants.
US officials on Tuesday also charged a former Apple engineer with trying to steal trade secrets from the world’s most valuable tech company before fleeing to his native China.
Weibao Wang, 37, was among five criminal suspects in separate cases targeted by American law enforcement in a blitz of indictments and publicity.
Mr Wang is said to have tried to steal Apple’s “entire autonomy source code” in 2018 – software intended to power a future Apple driverless car.
The software engineer allegedly had access to sensitive Apple databases which just 2pc of the company’s 135,000-strong workforce could log in to. He is claimed to have hoarded stolen information at his California home, fleeing the country after police searched the premises.
The US’ newly unveiled Disruptive Technology Strike Force also filed criminal charges against another Chinese man who allegedly tried to sell sensitive graphite technology to Iran for use in ballistic missiles.
The Foreign Office, which oversees UK sanctions designations, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.