The US DOJ seizes $28M in crypto connected to the NetWalker Ransomware

Over $28 million in crypto has been seized in connection with the extradition of Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, a former Canadian government employee, to the United States on accusations related to the Netwalker ransomware.

The US DOJ seizes $28M in crypto connected to the NetWalker Ransomware
The US DOJ seizes $28M in crypto connected to the NetWalker Ransomware

Vachon-Desjardins has been charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and wire fraud, intentional damage to a protected computer, and transmitting a demand in relation to damaging a protected computer as a result of his alleged involvement in Netwalker, a sophisticated form of ransomware, according to the Department of Justice.

The US intends to confiscate roughly $27 million of the $28 million seized, allegedly related to proceeds of the charges, according to the indictment, quoted by the DOJ.

“As evidenced by our Canadian allies’ seizure of cryptocurrency, we will pursue seizure and forfeiture of the alleged proceeds of ransomware, whether locally or internationally,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. said.

“The department will not stop pursuing and seizing cryptocurrency ransoms, thwarting ransomware perpetrators’ attempts to elude law enforcement by using virtual currency,” he added.

The Netwalker crypto-ransomware

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Netwalker was a complicated kind of ransomware that targeted victims from law enforcement agencies, commercial groups, and even the healthcare sector.

Law enforcement had already identified Netwalker hackers as the perpetrators of Argentina’s international border closure in September 2020. At the time, the attackers demanded $4 million in Bitcoin.

Following a cyber attack in September 2020, Netwalker hackers requested about $8 million in Bitcoin from Pakistan’s largest power producer in order to gain access to its own data.

As a result of this and subsequent ransomware assaults, cryptocurrencies have taken centre stage in the ransomware industry.