Department of Justice Seizes Over $28,000,000 in Crypto From Hacker Accused of Serial Ransomware Attacks

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is seizing more than $28 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) from a hacker accused of participating in a ransomware attack that impacted victims all over the world.

According to a new press release from the DOJ, the FBI has been working with Canadian law enforcement to extradite a former Canadian government employee to the United States to face ransomware attack charges.

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Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, 34, of Quebec, is accused of operating ransomware known as “NetWalker,” which targeted companies, municipalities, hospitals, law enforcement, emergency services, school districts, colleges and universities.

The DOJ alleges Vachon-Desjardins, a Canadian national, specifically targeted the healthcare sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He was extradited to the US last week on charges of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and wire fraud, intentional damage to a protected computer and transmitting a demand in relation to damaging a protected computer.

Canadian law enforcement officials arrested Vachon-Desjardins in January. They also seized 719 Bitcoin from his home, worth more than $28 million at time of writing, in addition to $790,000 in Canadian currency.

Explains Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division,

“As exemplified by the seizure of cryptocurrency by our Canadian partners, we will use all legally available avenues to pursue seizure and forfeiture of the alleged proceeds of ransomware, whether located domestically or abroad.

The department will not cease to pursue and seize cryptocurrency ransoms, thereby thwarting the attempts of ransomware actors to evade law enforcement through the use of virtual currency.”

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Featured Image: Shutterstock/Melinda Nagy

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