US DOJ Seizes $22M in Bitcoin From a Man Participating in Ransomware Attacks
The US Department of Justice confiscated 719 bitcoins from the 35-year-old Canadian – Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins – for participating in the NetWalker ransomware attacks.
At the time of the seizure, the amount of cryptocurrency equaled nearly $22 million.
Prison Time for the Criminal
According to a recent announcement, Vachon-Desjardins was involved in a sophisticated type of ransomware known as NetWalker. The malicious software targeted victims all over the globe, including firms, emergency services, colleges, and universities. It is worth noting that the attacks’ main focus was on the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said the wrongdoer targeted mainly rich people and high-value companies and profited from “the chaos caused by encrypting and stealing the victims’ data.”
As a result of the investigation, the US DOJ seized $742,840 in Canadian dollars and 719 BTC. At the time of the confiscation, the cryptocurrency equaled $21.8 million, while its today’s value is $14.4 million.
Additionally, the US authorities secured the man’s extradition to the States and sentenced him to spend the next 20 years in federal prison. Kenneth A. Polite, Jr believes the harsh punishment could serve as an example to those who think they can exploit victims this way.
Commenting on the matter was David Walker – Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Tampa Field Office:
“This sentencing serves as a reminder to the American public that the FBI is committed to combatting cyber threats with its world-class capabilities and enduring law enforcement partnerships. Our cyber task forces work vigorously to expose the cyber adversaries preying on United States citizens and bring them to justice.”
Other Recent Cases
A month ago, Joshua David Nicholas – a Florida resident – admitted that he and other members of the cryptocurrency platform EmpiresX defrauded investors with $100 million worth of digital assets.
The criminals lured users that their entity employed artificial and human intelligence to maximize profitability. Instead, EmpiresX operated as a typical Ponzi scheme and was not registered with the American financial watchdogs.
Nicholas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, resulting in a maximum sentence of five years in Federal prison.
In August, US law enforcement agents charged three residents of Miami, Florida – Da Corte, Gonzalez, and Meza – with stealing over $4 million from banks and a cryptocurrency exchange.
The men bought cryptocurrency from the platform using fake identities. Later, they complained to financial institutions that those transactions were carried out without the necessary authorization, asking for a refund.
After a successful investigation, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) identified the scam and brought the wrongdoers to justice. They face a sentence of 30 years behind bars.
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