Canadian Ransomware Suspect Extradited to the US

Daniel Attoe
Daniel Attoe

Updated · Mar 11, 2022

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Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, a former Canadian government worker, was turned over to officials in Florida on Wednesday.

Extradited From Canada

US prosecutors confirmed on Thursday that Canada has handed over an ex-government IT consultant to stand trial. Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, 34, will face charges for targeting “dozens of victims” using the sophisticated ransomware NetWalker. 

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested Vachon-Desjardins in January last year on suspicions of being a NetWalker key figure. A search of this home unearthed over 20 terabytes of data, including digital wallets with 719 bitcoins, now worth more than $28 million. Officials also found and seized C$790,000 in cash, some stashed in safety deposit boxes.

This January, he pleaded guilty before a Canadian judge to three of four charges. They were: 

  • mischief in relation to computer data 
  • extortion 
  • unauthorized use of a computer
  • participating in a criminal organization 

The RCMP-led investigation showed that he targeted at least 17 Canadian companies. With the use of malware, he encrypted data on their systems and then held on to it for ransom. 

Subsequently, the judge sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Now, Vachon-Desjardins will face parallel charges in the United States after a Tampa, Florida court indicted him of: 

  • computer and wire fraud
  • intentionally damaging a protected computer 
  • transmitting a demand in relation to damaging a protected computer

“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.

If convicted, Vachon-Desjardins will serve his US prison term before continuing the time left unserved in Canada.

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Daniel Attoe

Daniel Attoe

Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.

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