A former Canadian government official has been extradited to the United States on charges of repeated ransomware attacks. Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, 34, of Gatineau in Quebec, has been accused of using NetWalker ransomware to target dozens of victims worldwide, including hospitals and schools.
The United States launched a global lawsuit against the NetWalker hacking group in January 2021, seizing $ 454,000 worth of cryptocurrencies from the victims of three separate attacks.
As part of the lawsuit, charges were filed against Wachon-Desjardin, who is accused of receiving tens of millions of dollars in malware. According to the lawsuit, between April and December 2020, Vachon-Desjardins broadcast a conspiracy to deliberately damage and protect a protected computer.
On January 27, 2021, Canadian police officers arrested Wachon-Desjardins in Katino. During a search of the defendant’s home, officers found and seized 719 bitcoins, valued at $ 28,151,582 and another $ 790,000 in Canadian currency.
In a statement released Thursday last week, the United States announced that cryptocurrency had been seized on suspicion of extorting money from NetWalker ransomware victims.
“We will use all legally available means to seize and confiscate ransomware profits, whether at home or abroad, as exemplified by the seizure of cryptocurrencies by our Canadian partners,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Palit Jr.. Criminal Division of the Judiciary.
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“It is not wrong for the department to pursue and seize cryptocurrency redemption money, thereby thwarting the efforts of ransomware agents to avoid law enforcement by using virtual currency,” he added.
On Wednesday, the 9th, Vachon-Desjardins was deported to Tampa, Florida, where he faces charges of computer fraud and wire fraud, intentional damaging a protected computer and sending a request for damage to a protected computer.
According to Roger Handberg Infossecurity, a U.S. attorney in the Florida Central District, ransomware is a multi – billion dollar criminal organization that transcends physical and political boundaries. “This case illustrates effective international law enforcement cooperation aimed at identifying cybercriminals, holding them accountable for their crimes, and recovering stolen funds from victims.”
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