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Charges Laid Following International Cybercrime Investigation

Ottawa resident accused of multiple ransomware attacks 

ORILLIA – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has charged an Ottawa resident following a 23-month cybercrime investigation.

In January 2020, the OPP was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding ransomware attacks that were based in Canada. The OPP Cyber Operations Section, under the direction of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch, commenced a separate but parallel investigation with assistance provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s National Cybercrime Coordination Unit (NC3) and Europol. During the course of this investigation, OPP investigators determined an individual was responsible for numerous ransomware attacks affecting businesses, government agencies and private individuals throughout Canada as well as cyber-related offenses in the United States.

Following this lengthy investigation, Matthew PHILBERT, aged 31 years of Ottawa, Ontario has been charged with:

·      Possession of device to obtain unauthorized use of a computer system or to commit mischief, contrary to section 342.2(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada;

·      Fraud, contrary to section 380 (1) of the Criminal Code; and,

·      Unauthorized use of computer, contrary to section 342.1(1) of the Criminal Code.

A quantity of evidentiary materials was seized and held for investigation, including desktop and laptop computers, a tablet, several hard drives, cellphones, a Bitcoin seed phrase and a quantity of blank cards with magnetic stripes.

The accused was held in custody pending further appearances at the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa.

“Cyber criminals are opportunistic and will target any business or individual they identify as vulnerable. The OPP continues to demonstrate its ability to seamlessly collaborate on integrated police investigations to combat cybercrimes and other illegal activities.” – Deputy Commissioner Chuck Cox, Provincial Commander, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime

“The FBI alongside our international partners, OPP and RCMP, will continue to investigate these malicious cyber actors who continue to target US and Canadian infrastructure. We will hold these criminals responsible for trying to exploit and threaten these industries. We will impose risk and consequence by leveraging all of the tools in our toolbelt especially our partnerships to ensure these perpetrators are brought to justice.” – Brian Abellera, FBI Assistant Legal Attaché, Ottawa

“No organization can combat cybercrime alone. This joint operation is another example of how agencies can work closely together to successfully address cybercrime and hold cybercriminals to account for their actions. The best things people and organizations can do to help us combat cybercrime is learn how to protect themselves from it and always report instances to local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.” – Chris Lynam, the Director-General of the National Cybercrime Coordination Unit and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Cybercrime has been increasing exponentially in recent years, causing harm and immense financial losses to individual and businesses that are victimized. These events also jeopardize patient care and threaten the public’s trust and confidence in their institutions and infrastructure. Since 2019, the OPP has seen a 140 per cent increase in reports of these types of offences.

The OPP and its partners encourage everyone including businesses, government organizations and agencies to report any unauthorized use of or access to computer systems to your police service of jurisdiction.