US DOJ Seizes $22M in Bitcoin From a Man Participating in Ransomware Attacks

The US Department of Justice seized 719 bitcoins from 35-year-old Canadian Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins for participating in the NetWalker ransomware attacks.

At the time of the seizure, the amount of cryptocurrency was equivalent to almost $22 million.

Jail time for the criminal

According to a recent announcement, Vachon-Desjardins was involved in a sophisticated type of ransomware known as NetWalker. The malware targeted victims around the world, including businesses, emergency services, schools and universities. It is worth noting that the attacks mainly focused 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 abuser primarily targeted wealthy individuals and high-net-worth companies and profited “from the chaos caused by encrypting and stealing 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 seizure, the cryptocurrency was worth $21.8 million, while its current value is $14.4 million.

In addition, US authorities obtained the man’s extradition to the United 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 in this way.

David Walker, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Tampa field office, commented on the matter:

“This ruling serves as a reminder to the American public that the FBI is committed to combating cyber threats with its world-class capabilities and enduring partnerships with law enforcement. Our cyber task forces are working vigorously to expose and bring to justice cyber adversaries who prey on the citizens of the United States.”

Other recent cases

A month ago, Florida resident Joshua David Nicholas admitted that he and other members of cryptocurrency platform EmpiresX defrauded investors of digital assets worth $100 million.

Criminals attracted users because their entity used artificial and human intelligence to maximize profitability. Instead, EmpiresX operated like a typical Ponzi scheme and was not registered with US financial regulators.

Nicholas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carried a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

In August, US law enforcement officers charged three residents of Miami, Florida, Da Corte, Gonzalez and Meza, with stealing more than $4 million from banks and a cryptocurrency exchange.

The men bought cryptocurrency on the platform using fake identities. Later, they reported to the financial institutions that those operations had been carried out without the necessary authorization and asked for a refund.

After a successful investigation, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) identified the scam and brought the perpetrators to justice. They face a sentence of 30 years behind bars.


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