279 Crypto Accounts Tied To North Korea Freezes By US Court

A recent ruling by a US district court in Columbia has resulted in the freezing of 279 cryptocurrency accounts believed to have ties to North Korean operatives. Justice Timothy Kelly has ordered the seizure of these accounts, alleging their involvement in North Korean crypto thefts, although the specific monetary value remains undisclosed.

Legal Battle Unfolds Over Alleged North Korean Crypto Theft

The legal proceedings trace back to an August 2020 case initiated by the US government. Initially targeting 280 accounts, the case alleged that North Korean entities were transferring illicit crypto funds to exchanges outside the US or to unhosted wallets controlled by foreign conspirators. One account was dropped from the case two years after filing, leaving the focus on the remaining 279 accounts.

According to court documents, the laundering scheme enabled North Korea to obscure the origins of stolen cryptocurrencies and convert them into fiat currency, effectively evading international sanctions.

Challenges in Countering North Korean Crypto Operations

Experts express skepticism about the effectiveness of existing measures against North Korean operatives operating in the crypto space. Dennis Desmond, a cybersecurity lecturer, notes the difficulty in implementing meaningful countermeasures against actors who operate beyond conventional regulatory frameworks.

Court Orders Seizure of Virtual Wallets Linked to Exchange Hacks

In addition to freezing the 279 accounts, the recent court ruling also targeted 134 virtual wallets associated with cryptocurrency exchange hacks in 2019. Perpetrators of these hacks siphoned over $270,000 from one exchange and laundered the funds through a process known as “chain hopping.” This method involves converting illicit funds into various cryptocurrencies, using falsified KYC information, and employing VPNs to conceal their locations.

The court documents revealed that many of the IP addresses involved in the laundering process were consistent with those used in previous cyberattacks attributed to North Korean hackers.

Government Response and Increased Crypto Sector Scrutiny

These legal actions coincide with a broader crackdown on the cryptocurrency sector by government authorities, prompted by concerns over its vulnerability to illicit activities. Increased scrutiny and regulatory measures have targeted not only crypto theft but also services such as crypto mixing, aimed at anonymizing transactions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *