Montreal (September 10, 2020) – The RCMP charged two Montreal men, Jacob Costanzo-Peterson and Félix Costanzo-Peterson, for conducting high-profile cyberattacks against Canadian Tire Corporation, BMO, and Simplii Financial in 2017 and 2018. In August 2018, the two brothers were arrested during a search. Cyberattacks against businesses are all too common. Last week, the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) published that they lost about $300,000 in a so-called BEC (business email compromise) fraud by fraudsters posing as staff.
The RCMP laid charges against Jacob Costanzo-Peterson and Félix Costanzo-Peterson of Montreal in connection with the cyber-attacks on three high-profile Canadian companies in 2017 and 2018, according to a press release issued by the Mounties.
Two criminal investigations in high-profile cyberattacks
The charges against the two Montreal men followed two investigations by the RCMP’s National Division Cybercrime Investigative Team regarding cyberattacks against three major Canadian companies. 2017, the Canadian Tire Corporation reported a cyber incident directed at their customer loyalty rewards program. In the wake of the attack, some customer information was stolen. Subsequently, the Mounties launched an investigation dubbed Project Arrogance.
In May 2018, the RCMP’s Cybercrime Team started Project Assemble, after a cyberattack hit BMO and Simplii Financial. The incident allowed hackers to steal the data of 90,000 BMO and Simplii Financial customers.
As a result of their investigation, the RCMP executed a search warrant at the residence of the two Costanzo-Peterson brothers in Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré in August of 2018. The officers seized numerous evidence including digital evidence and firearms that ultimately connected the two cyber incidents. ‘The evidence obtained eventually allowed investigators to link the two attacks together,’ read the Mounties’ press release. The Costanzo-Peterson brothers were arrested during the search.
Charges laid in Quebec court
The RCMP laid now charges in connection with the cyberattacks against Jacob Costanzo-Peterson and Félix Costanzo-Peterson in Quebec court. They charged the men with unauthorized use of a computer, identity theft, and possession of a device to obtain unauthorized use of computers. They are scheduled to appear in court on November 5.
In January 2019, they previously appeared in court for charges related to possession of prohibited firearms and weapons trafficking which also followed from the investigations.
The RCMP said the current case highlights the importance of partnerships between law enforcement and the private sector in solving crimes. ‘If it had not been for the valuable collaboration of these three companies, we would not have been able to bring these two individuals to justice. These partnerships are key in solving these types of crimes, which unfortunately sometimes go unreported,’ Alexandre Beaulieu, Officer in Charge of the RCMP Cybercrime Investigative Team at the National Division.
Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) fell victim to BEC fraud
Unfortunately, cyberattacks against businesses and organizations are all too common. Last week the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) informed the public that they fell victim to a BEC (business email compromise) fraud that cost them about $300,000. The conservation authority reported that on September 3, they found out fraudsters, who were posing as staff, tricked them into sending two illegitimate e-transfers to falsified bank accounts.
The ERCA also informed that no money from the Essex Region Conservation Foundation has been affected by the fraud, which means that no donor funds are impacted. The ERCA’s IT systems were not further compromised throughout the fraud, however, the criminal investigation is ongoing, according to the authority.
‘Rest assured we are working with all appropriate authorities to fully investigate this matter,’ said Kieran McKenzie, chair of the conservation authority’s board of directors.
Marina Burghard writes for Canadian Fraud News about fraud-related cases, whistleblower, jurisdiction, identity theft, consumer protection, etc. – essentially about scams and how to protect yourself against this kind of fraudulent criminal behavior. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Science where her interest in criminology grew. Besides fraud, Marina’s scientific interest lies in terrorism, extremism and how to deal with it as a society.