Hacker Known as Max Is a 55-Year-Old Woman, Prosecutors Say

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(Bloomberg) — Alla Witte’s plans for a new career as a computer programmer included helping clients make enough money to see the world, according to YouTube videos and social media posts. She was in her late 40s with a degree in applied mathematics and an itch to do computer programming.



a close up of a sign: Epstein Friend Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested By FBI


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Epstein Friend Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested By FBI

But there was a darker side to Witte’s interest in computers, according to federal prosecutors. In the six years leading to October 2018, Witte, a Latvian citizen who grew up in Russia, allegedly transformed from amateur developer to a key cog in a cybercrime syndicate known as Trickbot.

Witte, now 55, assumed the identity “Max” and started writing illicit code, according to a federal indictment unsealed on Feb. 8 after she was detained in Miami. She’s since been transferred to Cleveland, where she’s one of seven alleged members of the Trickbot gang facing charges for their role in a global fraud, data theft and ransomware operation with roots in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.



a close up of a sign: Epstein Friend Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested By FBI


© Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg
Epstein Friend Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested By FBI

But Witte is the first alleged member of the Trickbot cybergang ever to be detained in the U.S. She appeared before a U.S. magistrate judge on June 4 for her arraignment, where she waived her rights to a detention hearing. She hasn’t yet made any pleadings in the case.

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Witte’s public defender in Cleveland, Ed Bryan, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

If Witte were to cooperate with authorities, her insights could be invaluable at a time when the Biden administration and a newly formed Justice Department task force are taking aim at ransomware and other cybercrime, said Alex Holden, the founder of the cyber-investigations firm Hold Security. She could also help U.S. officials understand the structure of a tenacious and wide-ranging cybercrime operation with so many tentacles that it managed to evade a pair of takedown operations by U.S. Cyber Command and Microsoft Corp. in 2020, he said.



a close up of a keyboard: RF Keyboard computer


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RF Keyboard computer

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