U.S. law enforcement agencies seized almost $30 million worth of crypto related to NetWalker ransomware in January 2021, according to blockchain research firm Chainalysis.
- The seizure is the largest ever related to ransomware, Chainalysis said.
- Law enforcers seized just under 720 bitcoins and 15.7 monero (XMR), equating to over $29.4 million at today’s prices.
- NetWalker attackers extorted tens of millions of dollars from businesses and governments in 2020, burrowing into and encrypting victims’ computer networks. It followed a ransomware-as-a-service model whereby individual hackers conducted the attacks and then shared the profits with NetWalker.
- One such hacker was Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins whom Chainalysis said had netted more than $14 million in bitcoin since February 2018, worth $27 million by January 2021. Earlier this month Vachon-Desjardins was jailed for seven years in Canada after pleading guilty to a number of charges including “participating in the activities of a criminal organization”.
- The news of last year’s crypto seizure from Vachon-Desjardins follows shortly after U.S. officials got hold of $3.6 billion worth of bitcoin from the 2016 hack of crypto exchange Bitfinex.
Read more: Ransomware Payments Are Getting Bigger as Hackers Shift Focus to Larger Targets: Chainalysis