Ottawa man charged in ransomware attacks, cyber-related offences

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Police say a 31-year-old man from Ottawa is facing multiple charges in ransomware attacks affecting businesses, government agencies and individuals throughout Canada, as well as cyber-related offences in the United States.

Ontario Provincial Police say they were contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding ransomware attacks that were based in Canada in January 2020.

The OPP say their cyber operations section, under the direction of the OPP criminal investigation branch, began a “separate but parallel” investigation with assistance provided by the RCMP’s national cybercrime coordination unit and Europol.

During the 23-month investigation, investigators determined an individual was responsible for numerous ransomware attacks affecting businesses, government agencies and individuals in Canada, as well as cyber-related offences in the U.S.

Police say a 31-year-old resident from Ottawa has been charged with fraud, possession of a device to obtain unauthorized use of a computer system or to commit mischief, and unauthorized use of a computer under the Criminal Code.

They say a quantity of “evidentiary materials” was seized and held for investigation, including desktop and laptop computers, a tablet, several hard drives, cellphones, and a quantity of blank cards with magnetic stripes.

The accused is being held in custody pending further court appearances in Ottawa.

Since 2019, the OPP says they have seen a 140-per-cent increase in reports of these types of cyber-related offences.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.