Netwalker Ransomware Hacker Forfeited $21 Million in Bitcoin

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  • A hacker who used the Netwalker malware to extort over $40 million from victims was sentenced last week
  • Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins pleaded guilty in July to extortion using the malware
  • 719 bitcoin was found in his possession during his arrest in January last year

A hacker who used the Netwalker ransomware bug to steal tens of millions of dollars in 2020 and had 719 bitcoin seized in a raid was last week sentenced to 20 years in prison. Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins was arrested in January 2021 for using the malware to extort U.S. companies, with the bitcoin and 742,840 Canadian dollars found in his possession during his arrest. The bitcoin will now likely be liquidated and the proceeds returned to the victims, with any remaining to be auctioned off.

Vachon-Desjardins Targeted U.S. Public and Private Companies

Vachon-Desjardins, of Gatineau, Quebec, used the Netwalker ransomware to target dozens of victims all over the world, including companies, municipalities, hospitals, law enforcement, emergency services, school districts, colleges, and universities. His activities focused particularly on the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking advantage of the global crisis to extort victims.

Reports say he amassed some $40 million during his year-long spree, but U.S. authorities eventually caught up with him in late 2020, ordering Royal Canadian Mounted Police to arrest him. This they did in January 2021, finding CA$ 742,840 and 719 bitcoin, valued at approximately $21.85 million the time of seizure, down to $14.4 million today.

Bitcoin Will be Liquidated and Returned

The Canadian was extradited to the United States where he pleaded guilty to the crimes in July this year, with sentencing coming last week. Vachon-Desjardins, who was arraigned, charged and sentenced in Tampa, will spend 20 years behind bars for his actions, with the bitcoin likely to be liquidated and the proceeds returned to the victims pro rata.