Russian hacker who attempted to bribe Tesla employee with $1M changes plea to guilty

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A 26-year old Russian man who offered $1 million to an employee to install ransomware on Tesla’s computer network has pleaded guilty, reversing his initial plea made last year.

The suspect, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, first appeared in court in September 2020 on charges of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer. At the hearing he denied any wrongdoing, simply saying “I’m not guilty.”

It appears the more than 6 months in jail made him have a change of heart. Kriuchkov pleaded guilty at a hearing on March 18 2021, thereby avoiding a trial that was planned for later this year.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a lighter sentence of between four and ten months in prison. That would be followed by up to three years of supervised release, and he would be required to pay Tesla $14,824.88 in restitution (via The Record).

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 10, 2021.

Over the course of several weeks in the summer of 2020, Kriuchkov befriended a Tesla employee at Giga Nevada. After taking the employee on trips out of town, he offered him up to $1 million to install ransomware on Tesla’s computers.

Fortunately the employee was not interested and contacted the FBI, who set up a sting operation to gather more evidence. It worked, and Kriuchkov was arrested on August 22, 2020 while attempting to flee the country.

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