U.S. indicts 3 North Korean hackers for stealing ship cryptocurrency plot
The U.S. Justice Department unsealed an indictment charging three North Korean computer programmers with stealing and extorting more than $1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrencies from financial professionals and corporations.
Hackers, part of a North Korean military intelligence agency, are also suspected of creating a blockchain network to get investors to unknowingly finance cryptocurrency on North Korean cargo ships as a way to escape US fines.
The accusation was filed in the U.S. The Los Angeles District Court charges that the three North Koreans were part of units of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), a Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) military intelligence organization engaged in illegal hacking.
The new indictment alleges that these groups engaged in a conspiracy to cause damage, steal data and assets, and otherwise further the strategic and financial interests of the DPRK government and its leader, Kim Jong Un, building on charges filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2018.
Prosecutors identified a wide variety of illegal cyber operations carried out for revenge or financial gain in the plot, in the United States and abroad. Allegedly, several malicious cryptocurrency applications were produced and deployed and a blockchain platform was developed and fraudulently promoted.
An attempt in 2017 and 2018 to finance the shipping activities of North Korea that were used to circumvent U.S. sanctions was among the schemes.
The group announced that a cryptocurrency program known as a Marine Chain Token was created and promoted and an initial coin offering was conducted to allow investors to buy fractional ownership interests in marine shipping vessels. This platform was used by North Korea to hide the ownership of the vessels deployed in activities that evaded U.S. sanctions.
“As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than masks and guns, are the world’s leading 21st century nation-state bank robbers. The department will continue to confront malicious nation state cyber activity with our unique tools and work with our fellow agencies and the family of norms abiding nations to do the same,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
Maritime Business World