A former Canadian government employee was sentenced to prison in the United States this week for his role in NetWalker ransomware attacks.
The man, Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, 35, of Gatineau, Quebec, pleaded guilty in June 2022 to participating in the ransomware scheme.
Initially spotted in 2019, NetWalker was being offered under the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) business model and has been used in attacks against tens of organizations worldwide, including private and public entities, hospitals and emergency services, law enforcement, and education institutions.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, NetWalker ransomware operators specifically targeted the healthcare sector, the US Department of Justice notes.
Vachon-Desjardins, who was extradited to the United States in March 2022, was involved in NetWalker ransomware attacks between April and December 2020.
He was arrested in January 2021. While searching his home, authorities found and seized 719 Bitcoin (valued at roughly $21 million at the time and $14 million today) and $790,000 in Canadian currency.
Vachon-Desjardins was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $21.5 million. Restitution will also be ordered, at a later date.
In January 2022, Vachon-Desjardins pleaded guilty in front of a Canadian court. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered the forfeiture of most of the proceeds from his illicit activities, and the restitution of over $2.6 million in Canadian currency.