The U.S Department of Justice, on August 27, released a statement about the plan of DOJ to file a civil forfeiture complaint against the 280 cryptocurrency accounts allegedly linked to two hacks of virtual currency exchanges by the North Koreans hackers. The decision came after investigators traced that these accounts were part of a state-sponsored cyber hack last year.
Based on the statement, Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Don Fort said that “despite the highly sophisticated laundering techniques used, IRS-CI’s Cybercrimes Unit was able to successfully trace stolen funds directly back to North Korean actors.”
Coindesk detailed that the first attack happened last year in July, where hackers emptied nearly $272,000 Proton, PlayGame, and IHT Real Estate Protocol alt-coins from an unnamed exchange. Further investigation suggests that those funds were converted into other digital tokens and used for money laundering. The second attack, according to Decrypt, took on September 2019, which netted around $2.5 million in cryptocurrency from a US company's digital wallets. Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt of U.S. Justice Department Criminal Division explained to Cointelegraph that the attacker then allegedly used 100 or so accounts at an exchange to launder the money. A hacking scheme from North Korea, matched with a crypto-based money laundering ring in China, form a drawn-out web of connected activity.
“Today’s complaint demonstrates that North Korean actors cannot hide their crimes within the anonymity of the internet. International cryptocurrency laundering schemes undermine the integrity of our financial systems at a global level, and we will use every tool in our arsenal to investigate and disrupt these crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office. He made sure that the FBI will continue to impose risks and consequences on criminals who seek to undermine the national security interests of the country.