A North Korean computer hacker was charged with blockchain for tricking investors into unwittingly funding North Korean cargo ships with cryptocurrency in order to evade US sanctions.
The hacker, known as Kim Il, was part of a group of three computer programmers named in an indictment overturned by the US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The indictment exposes a far-reaching conspiracy to steal and blackmail more than $ 1.3 billion in money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and corporations, and to fraudulently market a blockchain platform.
“The level of criminal behavior by North Korean hackers has been extensive and protracted, and the range of crimes they have committed is staggering,” said acting US attorney Tracy Wilkison. “The behavior described in the indictment is the act of a criminal nation-state that has stopped at nothing to seek revenge and get money to support its regime.”
As set out in the indictment, prosecutors stated that Kim Il was involved in the creation of a digital token called the Marine Chain Token in 2017 and 2018, backed by a blockchain that would allow investors to disclose some of the property Acquiring cargo ships, thereby hiding the fact that the ships belonged to and were controlled by North Korea.
“The defendant Kim Il and other conspirators would raise money for the Marine Chain platform through a platform [initial coin offering]This would, in part, involve communicating with potential investors using fake and fraudulent names to convince them to invest in the Marine Chain platform, ”the indictment reads.
“The defendant Kim Il and other conspirators would not tell these people that they were conspirators [North Korean] Citizens or that they communicated by false and deceptive names. They would also not tell investors that one purpose of the Marine Chain Token was to evade United States sanctions against North Korea. “
The indictment is a major revelation of the means North Korea bypassed US sanctions to block funding for the country’s nuclear program. The USA, together with the United Nations, have imposed such sanctions on North Korean oil and coal shipping over the past two years.
Previous known tactics used by Pyongyang to evade these sanctions have included the transfer of cargo to and from Chinese and Russian tankers while the ships are at sea to avoid detection. North Korean ships have also resorted to turning off a ship’s location transponder and counterfeiting ships’ flags or illegally re-labeling them under a different country.
Kim Il and his co-conspirators are charged with a conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse that carries a maximum legal sentence of five years in prison and a wire and bank fraud conspiracy that carries a maximum sentence of 30 years Imprisonment according to the US attorney.
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