The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit to seize funds from 280 accounts across various cryptocurrency networks, tied to alleged North Korean hackers and their accomplices.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the North Korean hackers stole over $250 million worth of cryptocurrency from “over a dozen virtual exchanges,” and used a Chinese money laundering network to cash out their ill-gotten funds.
Citing DOJ and Internal Revenue Service agents, the news outlet reports North Korean hackers used malware to gain access to the cryptocurrency exchanges. Court documents reveal that the government’s investigation into these cryptocurrency accounts started in 2018, and centered on a string of attacks against South Korean exchanges.
The documents also allude to the U.S.-based firm Algo Capital, mentioning a hacked firm on the Algorand blockchain. Algo Capital is an investment firm that lost between $1 to $2 million worth of cryptocurrency to hackers.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt was quoted as saying:
Today’s action publicly exposes the ongoing connections between North Korea’s cyber-hacking program and a Chinese cryptocurrency money laundering network.
The stolen funds were reportedly laundered through various unnamed cryptocurrency exchanges and over-the-counter (OTC) traders based in China. Court documents break down each of the thefts, following the flow of money since it was taken from the victims to laundering points. The DOJ notably alluded to the existence of a “Cryptocurrency Strike Force, which was credited by Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin with playing a key role in the investigations.
The move comes shortly after the Department of Homeland Security issued a notice about the actions of a hacking group tied to North Korea known as the BeagleBoyz. The group was blamed for attacks on several cryptocurrency exchanges.
As CryptoGlobe reported, in late 2018 a report by leading crypto security firm Group-IB revealed a hacking group tied to North Korea, the Lazarus group, was believed to have stolen $571 million in crypto from exchanges.
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