Raymond Uadiale: charged with money laundering
A Nigerian-born Microsoft network engineer is facing federal money-laundering charges linked to the Reveton Trojan malware, which freezes victims’ computers and tries to force them to pay a “fine” or ransom.
According to a report by The Sun Sentinel, Raymond Uadiale, 41, a former Miramar resident who, his attorney said, previously taught mathematics at Miami-Dade College, pleaded not guilty to money-laundering and conspiracy charges on Thursday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.
The judge did a double take when he heard that Uadiale has been working for Microsoft in the Seattle area since 2014.
“Cybersecurity, don’t tell me?” U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer quipped. “Are they aware of the charges?”
Uadiale’s attorney David Joffe assured the judge that his client’s employer knows about the allegations and that he doesn’t work in cybersecurity. His LinkedIn profile lists him as a network engineer.
Uadiale’s crimes occurred before he was hired by Microsoft and prosecutors don’t have any evidence that he had any involvement in actually spreading the malware or ransomware, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Strauss said in court.
Prosecutors said Uadiale, who also used the name Mike Roland, was part of a conspiracy led by a man who has since been arrested and is facing criminal charges in the United Kingdom.
The UK man – identified only by his online moniker “K!NG” – is accused of distributing computer malware, including the Reveton ransomware, to victims’ computers.
Reveton, installs itself on the computer without the user’s knowledge, then freezes the computer. A bogus message from the FBI pops up on the screen falsely claiming that the user has violated federal law and provides instructions on how to pay a “fine” to unlock their computer, according to the FBI.
Victims who pay the fine, or ransom, are sometimes still shut out of their computers and data, prosecutors said.
The man in the UK accumulated victims’ payments on GreenDot MoneyPak prepaid cards, according to the indictment.
Uadiale’s role was to help transfer those payments to the man in the UK, using Liberty Reserve, a virtual currency that was shut down in 2013 by federal prosecutors who said it was used primarily by cybercriminals to launder money, according to the indictment. The founder of Liberty Reserve, Arthur Budovsky, is serving 20 years in federal prison.
The ransoms totaled approximately $130,000 and Uadiale took 30 percent, while K!ng took 70 percent, prosecutors said. The two men operated the conspiracy in Broward and Miami-Dade counties for about five months in late 2012 and early 2013, authorities said.
Uadiale, who is free on $100,000 bond and must wear an electronic monitor, was born in Nigeria but became a U.S. citizen some years ago, Joffe said. Uadiale, who now lives in Maple Valley, near Seattle, never met K!ng in person but they were introduced by a mutual acquaintance, the attorney said.
“These events occurred about five years ago and it was for an extremely short period of time,” Joffe said. “Mr. Uadiale has been extremely responsible and cooperative in this case.”
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