Tuesday, 29 September 2020 22:58

Suspect Behind Failed Tesla Ransomware Ploy on Giga Nevada Pleads Not Guilty

Written by Simon Alvarez, Teslarati


After a long drive from Reno, NV, to Los Angeles on Aug. 22, Russian citizen Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov was intercepted by authorities, seemingly as he was attempting to flee the U.S.

Kriuchkov was arrested for his alleged involvement in a planned ransomware attack against Tesla, which came to light thanks to a report from an employee at Gigafactory Nevada who was being recruited for the effort.  


Before a federal magistrate judge on Sept. 24, Kriuchkov denied any wrongdoing. While responding to a charge of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer, the Russian citizen steadfastly remarked “I’m not guilty.” Earlier in the hearing, he also remarked he wanted to “go through the whole process as fast as possible.” 


In a statement to U.S. Magistrate Judge Carla Baldwin, the 26-year-old, who was initially reported as 27 by authorities, stated he knew the Russian government was already aware of his case. In response, the judge ordered Kriuchkov to remain in federal custody pending trial, which is scheduled for Dec. 1. This date, however, could be postponed. 


Kriuchkov is accused of spending more than five weeks in the U.S. planning a ransomware attack against Tesla’s Gigafactory Nevada facility. During his stay in the country, Kriuchkov reached out to a Russian-speaking employee at the Nevada-based facility, urging him to insert malware into the electric car maker’s systems. For his participation, Kriuchkov offered the Tesla employee a $500,000 reward, an amount that was later raised to $1 million.


Instead of going on with Kriuchkov’s plan, the employee promptly reported the planned ransomware attack to Tesla, which, in turn, reported the attempt to the FBI. Working with the FBI, the Tesla employee continued to communicate with the Russian citizen, which culminated in a meeting on Aug. 19 where Kriuchkov agreed to pay an advance of $11,000.


Two days later, the Tesla employee was informed that the plan was being “delayed.” The Russian citizen was arrested in Los Angeles the next day. 

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