A Canadian hacker is forfeiting millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin (BTC) to the U.S. government while facing a multi-decade prison sentence.
According to a new press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ), 35-year-old Sebastian Vachon-Desjardins has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the NetWalker ransomware attacks and also ordered to relinquish $21.5 million worth of the leading digital asset.
Authorities allege that Vachon-Desjardins was the mastermind behind the NetWalker hacks, which targeted victims all over the world by encrypting and exfiltrating information from Windows-based systems and demanding a ransom of BTC in exchange for the decryption of the data.
Among the bad actor’s victims were companies, municipalities, law enforcement agencies, and education providers such as colleges, universities and school districts.
The hacker also specifically targeted healthcare providers during the Covid-19 pandemic to take advantage of the troubling times to extort victims, according to the press release.
As stated by Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division,
“The defendant identified and attacked high-value ransomware victims and profited from the chaos caused by encrypting and stealing the victims’ data.
Today’s sentence demonstrates that ransomware actors will face significant consequences for their crimes and exemplifies the Department’s steadfast commitment to pursuing actors who participate in ransomware schemes.”
At the time of his arrest in January 2021, authorities searched Vachon-Desjardins home and seized roughly $544,000 and 719 BTC, worth about $14.5 million at time of writing.
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