Graff Diamonds, a British luxury jeweler, has paid a ransom in bitcoin of $7.5 million to Conti, the Russian hacking gang which leaked data on the company’s big clients last year, Bloomberg reported Wednesday (June 6), citing a London lawsuit.
The report said Graff’s client base includes Middle East royalty, and the jeweler has sued its insurer, The Travelers Companies, for losses over the extortion. While Graff’s position is that the payment should be covered under their policy, The Travelers Companies isn’t going to pay the jeweler’s loss from the bitcoin ransom, per the report.
Conti attacked the jeweler in September last year and leaked data about the royal families from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar. In a rather unusual move, Conti did apologize to the families — but said there might be a need to leak more data.
“Our goal is to publish as much of Graff’s information as possible regarding the financial declarations made by the US-UK-EU neo-liberal plutocracy, which engages in obnoxiously expensive purchases when their nations are crumbling under economic duress,” the group said, according to reports at the time.
Conti accepted Graff’s offer of half their initial demand of $15 million, which stopped any more data being published. The Bloomberg report noted that it’s unclear if Conti cashed out the bitcoin then, when bitcoin was worth much more than it is now — in the interim, the price of bitcoin has fallen drastically.
The issue of fraud and theft in digital assets has been a pressing issue, and as such, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) said in early June that it wanted to collect more information from banks and other institutions regarding crypto assets and identity theft red flags.
Lawmakers have been worried in general about the effect ransomware efforts could have, including one publicized instance last year when hackers shut down the Colonial Pipeline for a short time using such a method.
According to Sen. Gary Peters, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, there needs to be more data to fight the crimes.
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