Two Countries Charge Canadian with Cybercrimes

A man from Canada has been charged with committing cybercrimes by both his native country and the United States.

Matthew Philbert, of Ottawa, Ontario, is suspected of playing a leading role in multiple cyber-attacks using tactics that included a “malspam campaign” and the deployment of ransomware. 

The 31-year-old was arrested by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) on November 30 and remains in custody. 

The OPP announced Tuesday that Philbert had been accused of coordinating ransomware attacks on Canadian individuals, businesses, and government agencies, and allegedly committed additional "cyber-related offenses" in the US.

Philbert was charged in Canada with fraud, unauthorized use of a computer, and possession of a device to obtain unauthorized use of a computer system or to commit mischief.

The charges against him were brought following an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Europol, which lasted nearly two years.

“Cyber-criminals are opportunistic and will target any business or individual they identify as vulnerable,” said Deputy Commissioner Chuck Cox, provincial commander of OPP Investigations and Organized Crime.

“The OPP continues to demonstrate its ability to seamlessly collaborate on integrated police investigations to combat cybercrimes and other illegal activities.” 

Prosecutors in the US allege that from April 2018 to May 2018, Philbert conspired to and later did damage a computer belonging to the state of Alaska.

A federal indictment unsealed Tuesday in the District of Alaska charged Philbert with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with computers and one count of fraud and related activity in connection with computers.

“This indictment in the District of Alaska is part of an ongoing national effort by the Department of Justice to address cybercrimes that target US citizens from abroad,” stated the Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs.

The grand jury that issued the indictment found probable cause to forfeit all the defendant’s property that constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the violations, should he be found guilty.

Acting US Attorney Bryan Wilson of the District of Alaska said on Tuesday: “Today’s unsealed indictment is a great example of the importance of international partnerships to combat the evolving and growing threat of cybercrimes.”

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