A former affiliate of the Netwalker ransomware has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in the U.S., a little over three months after the Canadian national pleaded guilty to his role in the crimes.
Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, 35, has also been ordered to forfeit $21,500,000 that was illicitly obtained from dozens of victims globally, including companies, municipalities, hospitals, law enforcement, emergency services, school districts, colleges, and universities.
Launched in 2019, the Netwalker attacks particularly singled out the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunistically taking advantage of the situation to extort money from victims.
"The defendant in this case used sophisticated technological means to exploit hundreds of victims in numerous countries at the height of an international health crisis," U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida said.
Vachon-Desjardins, an IT engineer working for the Canadian government was extradited to the U.S. earlier this March. A month before that, an Ontario court awarded him a jail term of six years and eight months.
The defendant was arrested by Canadian law enforcement officers in the city of Quebec on January 27, 2021, leading to the seizure of $742,840 in Canadian currency and 719 bitcoin, which was valued at $21,849,087 back then and $14,463,993 as of today.
According to statistics shared by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, more than $46 million worth of funds in NetWalker ransoms have been traced since it first came on the scene in August 2019.