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U.S. Initiates Lawsuit Against North Korea Over Stolen Digital Currencies

The United States is saying “enough” when it comes to the hacking history of nuclear state North Korea. The country is now suing its rival for control of more than 200 separate bitcoin and Ethereum accounts which allegedly contain crypto funds that were taken illegally from two trading exchanges.

North Korea Is Being Taken to Court

North Korea has a long history of stealing cryptocurrency to fund its illicit programs. The country is allegedly the home of Lazarus, a hardcore hacking organization that has potentially stolen hundreds of millions in digital funds since it first came about more than ten years ago. Recently, the hacking group began utilizing LinkedIn advertisements to potentially lure unsuspecting victims into opening hazardous documents that would potentially release malware onto their computers.

Court documents do not name the exchanges in question, though they do list two separate hacking incidents, one of which occurred in early July of last year. The other took place in September. The first hack saw more than $250,000 in crypto funds stolen including Proton tokens and IHT Real Estate Protocol tokens. The second incident saw a much wider array of virtual assets taken. The total for this event ultimately shot past $2.5 million.

Officials were able to utilize blockchain analysis to hunt down the stolen funds and track them to the mentioned 200+ accounts. According to court documents, those who engaged in the hacks performed a tactic known as chain hopping or blockchain hopping, in which stolen funds are immediately transferred into different currencies to hide any trace of the hackers. Thus, if Ethereum tokens are taken, they are quickly converted into bitcoin or some other form of crypto as a means of hiding them.

The Department of Justice says that many of the stolen funds were transferred to different exchanges and “hopped” several times so the activity could not be traced. The crypto exchanges that currently run the 200+ utilized accounts have all responded quickly to DOJ requests for action and frozen the accounts so that the money cannot be used or moved. Had the digital funds been transferred into cash or fiat currency, there was a chance that all traces may have been lost permanently.

Why Is There So Much Crypto Crime?

Bitcoin and digital currency appear to attract crime from all points of the globe. One of the most recent – and most prolific – attempts to steal crypto and bitcoin from unsuspecting users was a ploy involving Twitter and the hijacking of several high-profile accounts including former president Barack Obama, his vice president Joe Biden, Microsoft mogul Bill Gates and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Their accounts became laden with messages that ultimately promised the doubling of funds to anyone who was willing to send bitcoin to anonymous digital addresses. Sadly, the money was only taken, not doubled, and the hacker made off with $121,000 in crypto funds.

Tags: crypto crime, North Korea, United States

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