Tesla hacker who offered $1M bribe to Giga Nevada employee pleads guilty

The Tesla hacker who attempted to infiltrate the company’s Gigafactory Nevada facility with malware, offering $1 million to an employee for help with the task, pleaded guilty to counts of “conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer.”

Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov pleaded guilty, according to a U.S. Department of Justice complaint that was released yesterday. His sentence offered a maximum of five (5) years imprisonment, three (3) years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine or “twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense,” and a mandatory special assessment of $100, if he would have pleaded guilty, Engadget reported.

In Summer 2020, Kriuchkov contacted a Russian-speaking, non-U.S. citizen attempting to access Tesla’s computer networks. The initial contacts between Kriuchkov and the employee were made through WhatsApp, a popular messaging application for Smartphones. The employee and Kriuchkov met on August 1-3, asking to meet for “business.” The plan was revealed, and the Tesla employee was offered $500,000 initially, and an additional $500,000, for a total of $1 million if the operation was successful. He planned to receive sensitive information about Tesla and hold it for ransom, threatening to release company secrets or future developments if his demands were not met.

However, the plan fell through, as the employee met with the FBI, who outfitted the anonymous employee with a wire. He wore it during his next meeting with Kriuchkov and was able to get the hacker to reveal sensitive information about the elaborate scheme that led to his indictment. The hacker was arrested on August 22nd, 2020, in Los Angeles.

Originally, Kruichkov pleaded not guilty to the charges that were initially filed on September 3rd, 2020. A jury trial was planned for September of this year, and if he were found guilty, the aforementioned charges would have been what he was facing. However, the new guilty plea that Kriuchkov will carry a between four and ten-month sentencing with three years of supervised release. His fine will also be eliminated, but he will have to pay $14,824.88 in restitution.

Kruichkov’s full complaint from the U.S. Department of Justice is available below.

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