• Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

US Court Freezes 279 Crypto Accounts That Are Tied to North Korea

John Wise

ByJohn Wise

May 23, 2024

The Columbia district court’s decision says 279 cryptocurrency accounts linked to North Korean agents must be seized. This legal action shows that the government is trying to stop illegal financial activities connected to the secret country. It also shows that the world is still closely watching how North Korea uses digital assets.

Crackdown on Illegal Financial Activities

Justice Timothy Kelly’s latest decision on May 10 says that 279 cryptocurrency accounts must be frozen and sent to the U.S. This ruling, which came from a case in August 2020, says there are links to North Korean cryptocurrency thefts.

The exact amount of money involved in the case has not been made public, but it involves organizations with ties to North Korea sending illegal cryptocurrency to exchanges or unposted wallets controlled by outsiders.

The decision goes to show that the U.S. government is still working hard to stop North Korea’s illegal financial activities. It also shows how hard it is because the state uses digital assets for unlawful activities.

Challenges in Crypto Crime Enforcement

The plan involved a money laundering scheme that tried to hide where stolen cryptocurrencies came from before turning them into real money. This helped North Korea avoid sanctions. Dennis Desmond, a lecturer in cybersecurity at the University of the Sunshine Coast, talks about how the U.S. hasn’t been very good at stopping crypto crime or getting stolen assets back.

He emphasizes how hard it is to create effective ways to stop North Korean agents who work outside of standard financial systems. The latest court decision also says that 134 virtual wallets connected to two 2019 cryptocurrency exchange hacks must be seized.

People stole over $270,000 from one platform and hid the money using a method called “chain hopping,” which involves several trades and makes it harder to find and return stolen assets.

Chain Hopping

Court documents say that chain hopping includes using fake KYC information and VPNs to hide locations and transferring stolen money between different cryptocurrencies. The IP addresses used are often the same as those used in other thefts led by North Korea, which shows a regular pattern of behavior.

Justice Kelly’s recent decision comes after a decision in March to take 145 cryptocurrency accounts across four exchanges that were linked to money laundering. These accounts were responsible for a loss of $330 million.

North Korean hackers are responsible for the $430 million in crypto losses in 2023. This shows that the country makes a lot of money through hacks to fund weapon development, so the government is cracking down on crypto-mixing services and looking more closely at them.

John Wise

John Wise

John Wise is a seasoned fintech analyst and writer with over a decade of experience in the field. With a Master’s degree in Computer Science from MIT, he specializes in simplifying complex financial technologies for a broad audience. At FinTech Service Reviews, John provides insightful and thorough reviews, helping readers navigate the evolving landscape of financial technology with ease.

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