According to the Reuters report, the U.S. government is seeking to seize 280 cryptocurrency accounts it said were used by North Korean hackers who stole millions of dollars in crypto from two crypto exchanges and used Chinese traders to launder their funds. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil forfeiture complaint after having charged two Chinese citizens in March with laundering more than $100 million in cryptocurrency on behalf of North Korea.
“North Korea used crypto hackers to circumvent sanctions.”
Earlier court filings reveal that the U.S. authorities believe that the North Korean regime uses crypto hackers to circumvent different sanctions. The Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s criminal division said that today’s action publicly exposes the ongoing connections between North Korea’s cyber-hacking program and a Chinese cryptocurrency money laundering network.
The United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. However, there have been reports alleging that the North Korean regime is using cryptocurrencies to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
North Korea has generated an estimated $2 billion from these cyber attacks.
North Korea has generated an estimated $2 billion for weapons of mass destruction programs using “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to steal from cryptocurrency exchanges and banks, a U.N. report revealed last year. The U.N. experts said attacks against crypto exchanges have allowed the North Korean regime to generate income without the oversight common in traditional banking channels.
Crypto scams worldwide have surged amid the ongoing pandemic this year. Russia reported a significant rise in crypto scams in the first half of this year. Several other countries also reported a surge in ransomware attacks, crypto Ponzi schemes, and other crypto-related scams.