Sebastian Vachon-Desjardins has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ). He was indicted for his role in the NetWalker ransomware attacks resulting in having 700 Bitcoin (BTC) units in his possession.
Markedly, Vachon-Desjardins is a 35-year-old Canadian citizen who had previously worked with the government. Altogether, the stolen digital assets in his possession were worth about $21.5 million at that time.
In addition to his jail sentence, he has been asked to forfeit $21.5 million for the part he played in the attack. According to the U.S Department of Justice, the court will seek restitution at a later date.
Vachon-Desjardins launched most of his ransomware attacks on hospitals, schools, and the police. Some of their other victims were companies, municipalities, law enforcement, and emergency services. Working as a part of the Russia-based group, they attacked their victims during the Covid-19 pandemic especially, the health sector.
Ultimately, the NetWalker ransomware perpetrators offered the affected entities a ransomware-as-a-service model which gave them access to their data. In return for the stolen data, they requested BTC from their prey.
U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida commented on the advanced technology employed by Vachon-Desjardins.
“The defendant, in this case, used sophisticated technological means to exploit hundreds of victims in numerous countries at the height of an international health crisis. This case is an example of the dedication and tenacious work of our law enforcement partners to bring such criminals to justice, no matter where they reside or operate.”
Authorities Doubles Efforts to Mitigate Cybercrime
Specifically, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of DoJ’s Criminal Division emphasized the legal department’s effort to fight fraud.
“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.”
Notably, the crypto industry has noticed a trend of ransomware attacks in affiliation with Russia. In February, it was discovered that 74% of stolen funds from ransomware attacks were going into Russia-affiliated wallets.