Two Chinese men are now under sanction by the United States federal government over allegations that they laundered criptocurrency connected to the hacking of a cryptocurrency exchange almost two years ago.
On Monday the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against the two men, both of whom are 23 years of age. According to OFAC, the two men were given $91 million stolen by hackers from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) from one cryptocurrency exchange, plus another $9.5 million from a different cryptocurrency exchange.
Per OFAC, the two men transferred the currency among several addresses they ran in an effort at obscuring its origins. The funds in question are believed to be part of an April 2018 hacking that was initiated when an employee of the exchange inadvertently downloaded malware designed by the DPRK. The malware granted access to personal information to individuals of the Lazarus Group, who allegedly went on to obtain and use private keys to drain the cybercurrency accounts on the exchange’s server.
OFAC says the break-in ultimately netted the Lazarus Group and the DPRK a quarter of a billion dollars in cybercurrency. One of the designees allegedly transferred $34 million of the funds to an account linked to his exchange account, while moving $1.4 million to prepaid gift cards for use in purchasing more cybercurrency.
The State Department asserts that the DPRK has long been a bad actor on the Internet, using nefarious activities like hacking and other forms of theft to fund the Kim regime. According to the United Nations, North Korea has attempted to steal up to $2 billion via cybercrime, with cryptocurrency accounting for over $500 million.
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