Four Men Indicted in North Korea Illicit Crypto Case
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North Korea is back in the news when it comes to crypto. It appears the country just won’t go away and is still doing all it can to get its paws on illicit digital currencies, but countries like the United States are fighting back.
North Korea Is At It Again
It has been revealed that the Justice Department (DOJ) has indicted four men for allegedly stealing and laundering digital assets on behalf of an online criminal syndicate based in North Korea. The men are also accused of buying goods with USD in the past as a means of avoiding other sanctions.
The charges were filed in three separate cases in Washington. The coins are alleged to have been obtained by members of the Lazarus Group, which is an infamous hacking organization that has worked hard to garner illicit digital currencies in the past as the means of funding the ongoing nuclear program in North Korea.
The organization has targeted a wide array of digital currency enterprises in the past including Axie Infinity, and it’s believed members have stolen more than $1 billion in crypto.
The first charge saw a banker from China being indicted. He is 39-year-old Sim Hyon Sop, and he – along with three separate traders – are believed to have used international mixers and other means to convert stolen digital currencies by North Korean nationals into fiat currencies that were then used to buy illegal goods or fund ongoing nuclear missile production.
In the other indictments, the men who took part in the crimes were not named, though it’s been stated that these individuals used fake identities to garner blockchain jobs in the United States. From there, they utilized their access to said companies to garner more funds, which at the time of writing, are believed to exceed $12 million, all of which passed through Sim’s crypto wallet.
Overall, it’s believed that these individuals took part in more than 1,500 illicit trades, and that their customers – aside from North Korea – were traders and other companies seeking to engage in financial activities without the proper licenses to back themselves up.
Trying to Fight Back
While it may appear that North Korea is an unstoppable enemy when it comes to crypto crime, several nations in Europe and the U.S. have shown that they will not stand for illegal trickery and theft and have taken implicit actions to garner stolen funds back.
For example, not long ago, the nation of Norway managed to locate some of the money stolen from the Axie Infinity online crypto gaming platform that was stolen in 2022 and retrieve some of it. The U.S. has also implemented sanctions against crypto mixers like Tornado Cash to ensure that the means North Korea uses to steal crypto remain limited.
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