3 North Koreans penetrated US companies in’staggering’ suspected telework fraud, says DOJ

The Justice Department has recently unveiled an indictment that accuses three North Korean workers and a U.S. citizen of participating in an intricate fraudulent scheme. The charges revolve around their involvement in securing illicit employment with numerous American companies and government agencies, and the magnitude of the fraud is described as “staggering.”

The North Korean IT workers, who went by the names Jiho Han, Chunji Jin, and Haoran Xu, have been indicted for their involvement in a scheme. The group utilized the identities of 60 actual Americans to secure telework positions from October 2020 to 2023. These positions resulted in profits of almost $7 million for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

According to prosecutors, the North Korean group received help from Christina Chapman, a U.S. national, in their pursuit of remote work positions. Chapman is accused of placing laptops owned by U.S. companies in different residences, which allowed the North Koreans to access them. Additionally, she allegedly received paychecks on behalf of the group and forged the signatures of the intended recipients in order to transfer the funds into her own bank account. The indictment claims that she later transferred the funds to the North Koreans, while also charging them monthly fees for her services.

According to the indictment, the conspiracy committed a massive fraud that affected numerous industries and harmed unsuspecting American companies and individuals. More than 300 U.S. companies were impacted, as well as the identities of U.S. individuals. Furthermore, false information was provided to the Department of Homeland Security more than 100 times, leading to false tax liabilities for over 35 U.S. individuals. The conspiracy also generated at least $6.8 million in revenue for overseas IT workers.

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According to the indictment, the scheme allegedly defrauded several well-known companies. These include a “top-5 national television network and media company, a premier Silicon Valley technology company, an aerospace and defense manufacturer, an iconic American car manufacturer, a high-end retail chain, and one of the most recognizable media and entertainment companies in the world, all of which were Fortune 500 companies.”

According to the indictment, the workers also made three separate attempts to gain employment and access to information at two undisclosed U.S. government agencies. However, their efforts were detected and prevented.

According to the DOJ, the three North Koreans are still on the loose. The Justice Department announced that Chapman was apprehended in Arizona on Wednesday. As of now, she does not have a lawyer representing her.

The State Department made a statement on Thursday, announcing a reward of up to $5 million for any information regarding the IT workers and the complete disruption of their scheme.

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