Computer hacker held four Edmonton companies ransom, police say

An Edmonton man is facing fraud and extortion charges after several businesses had their computer networks hacked and data stolen, resulting in losses of $1.5 million.

37-year-old man charged with extortion, fraud after IT networks hacked, Bitcoin payment demanded

A 37-year-old Edmonton man has been charged with extortion and fraud after several local businesses had their computer networks hacked. (Shutterstock)

An Edmonton man is facing fraud and extortion charges after several businesses had their computer networks hacked and data stolen, resulting in losses of $1.5 million.

An Edmonton business reported to police that its IT system was hacked in July, police said in a release Thursday.

Police believe the suspect infiltrated the company's IT network, took control of its email and smart phone servers, before demanding payment in Bitcoin to prevent further damage to the network.

Following a thorough investigation, the cyber crime investigations unit was able to identify the suspect, police said.

"Once the networks were accessed, the suspect targeted financial data, including online store accounts and email accounts, from the companies and their employees," said Const. Phil Hawkins.

It is believed the same man is responsible for hacking the networks of at least four Edmonton-based companies, said police.

"This type of intrusion can result in significant losses to a business, including time and resources," Hawkins said. "In this case, the businesses affected suffered an estimated $1.5 million in combined damages."

A 37-year-old man is charged with 18 criminal offences including extortion, mischief in relation to computer data, fraudulently obtaining computer service, and theft over $5,000.