Yesterday, the United States’ Department of Justice filed a complaint to seize 280 cryptocurrency accounts operated by notorious North Korean hackers. They allegedly stole millions of dollars worth of crypto assets from two cryptocurrency exchanges and also sought the help of Chinese OTC traders to launder the funds.
US DOJ Moves To Seize Cryptocurrency Accounts of North Korean Hackers
In a civil forfeiture complaint, America’s apex house of justice moved to disrupt the nexus between North Korean hackers and a Chinese money laundering network. This comes after the U.S. Department of Justice slapped two Chinese nationals with charges for moving $100 million for North Korea in March earlier this year.
Commenting on the filing of the complaint, the Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said:
Today’s action publicly exposes the ongoing connections between North Korea’s cyber-hacking program and a Chinese cryptocurrency money laundering network. This case underscores the department’s ongoing commitment to counter the threat presented by North Korean cyber hackers by exposing their criminal networks and tracing and seizing their ill-gotten gains.
Complaint Details The Anatomy Of The North Korean Crypto Hacks
The US DOJ’s complaint brought to light the mechanism of hacks carried out by the North Koreans. In the first incident that took place in July 2019, hackers allegedly pilfered over $272,000 worth of alternative cryptocurrencies and tokens from an exchange.
The stolen crypto funds included Proton Tokens, PlayGame tokens, and IHT Real Estate Protocol tokens. They were then routed through multiple cryptocurrency wallet addresses and exchanges, and converted to Bitcoin (BTC), Tether (USDT), and other crypto coins to conceal the transaction path.
Also, in September last year, hackers attacked a U.S. based company and obtained access to the firm’s funds held in its cryptocurrency wallets, on other platforms, and by its partners.
The hackers made away with nearly $2.5 million and laundered it through over 100 crypto accounts on another exchange.
Cryptocurrency funds from both the hacks discussed above and the one in March 2020 were laundered by a single network of Chinese OTC crypto traders. All infrastructure and communication accounts used in the fund transfers also belong to North Korea.
Not The First Seize Order By The U.S. Department of Justice
As reported by CryptoPotato, the United States Department of Justice has indicted several illicit cryptocurrency players and bad actors. In this month itself, the DOJ tackled three such cases.
On August 4, the justice body charged ‘Banana Fund’ scammers. A seizure complaint was against them with an order to turn in around $7 million worth of Bitcoins and Tether (USDT).
Then on August 13, the US DOJ announced the successful seizure of over 300 cryptocurrency accounts operated by al-Qaeda, Hamas, and ISIS.
Lastly, on August 19, the Justice Department charged five folks for running a Bitcoin mining Ponzi scheme that duped innocent and unsuspecting investors of at least $20 million.
In all these cases, Bitcoin’s transparency played a massive role in nailing the alleged bad actors.