Mastermind Behind Multimillion Dollar ‘NetWalker’ Ransomware Scheme Faces Charges Following Extradition to Florida

Aerial view of a man on a desktop computer with three monitors in front of him

A Canadian man, extradited to Florida, faces a host of charges related to his connection to cyberattacks utilizing a ransomware known as “NetWalker.”

Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins is facing indictments for conspiracy to commit computer fraud and wire fraud and intentional damage to a protected computer, in connection to the ransomware that has been used to attack businesses, hospitals, schools, emergency response services, and other organizations.

According to the Department of Justice, Vachon-Desjardins “conspired to and did intentionally damage a protected computer and transmit a ransom demand in connection with doing so” for the majority of 2020.

The ransomware compromises a computer and sends the individual a ransom note, detailing the demands of the individual completing the cyberattack.

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

In addition to the charges, law enforcement officers seized 719 Bitcoin, which translates to more than $28 million, and $790,000 in Canadian currency.

“Ransomware is a multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise that transcends physical and political boundaries. International collaboration is essential to identify the perpetrators of these sophisticated schemes,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida. “This case illustrates effective international law enforcement cooperation directed at identifying cybercriminals, holding them accountable for their alleged criminal actions, and recovering funds allegedly stolen from their victims.”

The Department of Justice has launched a global initiative against the ransomware that has impacted numerous individuals.

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]


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