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Convicted cybercriminal from Bradford, Ont., sentenced for global ransomware scheme


Convicted cybercriminal Mikhail Vasiliev has been sentenced to nearly four years in jail after pleading guilty last month to eight counts of cyber extortion, mischief and weapons charges.

The Russian-Canadian man who called Bradford, Ont., home was behind a conspiracy that made international headlines and involved hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Mikhail Vasiliev took responsibility for his actions, and that played out in today's courtroom with the sentence that was imposed," said Louis Strezos, Vasiliev's lawyer from outside the courthouse on Tuesday.

While delivering the sentence, Justice Michelle Fuerst called Vasiliev a "cyber-terrorist," saying his conduct was "planned, deliberate, and coldly calculated."

Justice Fuerst added that Vasiliev's actions were "far from victimless crimes" and that he was "motivated by his own greed."

The 34-year-old Russian-Canadian, who moved from Moscow more than 20 years ago, admitted to being a ransomware hacker who held sensitive computer data hostage in exchange for ransom payments from victims, including businesses in Saskatchewan, Montreal and Newfoundland.

The court heard Vasiliev was initially arrested about a year and a half ago when police busted him inside his Bradford home, catching him in the act.

U.S. investigators, who had been watching Vasiliev for two years, said he was sitting at a table inside his garage while on a laptop, committing cyber crimes as part of an international ransomware group called LockBit.

The court heard Vasiliev tried to extort the three Canadian companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars each between 2021 and 2022, paralyzing them while encrypting their computer systems and financial information.

His lawyer said he became a cyber criminal while at home during the pandemic.

According to U.S. justice officials in New Jersey, the LockBit group Vasiliev admitted to being associated with made at least $100 million in ransom demands and took tens of millions of dollars in ransom payments from at least 1,000 cyber attacks on victims in the U.S. and globally.

Last month, the Justice Department announced that Vasiliev and four other alleged LockBit cybercriminals had been charged for their participation in the LockBit conspiracy.

Vasiliev consented to extradition to the U.S., where he's facing more cybercrime charges, including conspiracy to intentionally damage protected computers and to transmit ransom demands.

Justice Fuerst ordered Vasiliev to fully pay back more than $860,000 in restitution to his Canadian victims.

The court heard that while Vasiliev awaits extradition to New Jersey, his family plans to relocate back to Russia. Top Stories

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