DOJ Unveils Charges in Major Fraud Scheme

DOJ Unveils Charges in Major Fraud Scheme

( – The Department of Justice has charged a US national who allegedly helped agents working for North Korea scam a number of companies for close to $7 million.

In a press release under the DOJ’s “Rewards for Justice” program, the agency said that it is offering up to a $5 million reward for information on the scamming network. US national Christina Chapman and North Korean agents, going by aliases Chunji Jin, Jiho Han, and Haoran Xu, are allegedly involved. The three agents, who were reportedly managed by another agent using the names “Zhonghua” and “Venechor S”, are accused of using false identities belonging to more than 60 US residents to obtain remote work for US companies spanning a variety of industries. A Ukrainian national, Oleksandr Didenko, has also been identified as a co-conspirator.

The operation spanned three years, beginning in October 2020 to October 2023, where Jin, Han, and Xu allegedly obtained positions as developers for software and applications. Chapman assisted the three in obtaining the positions and acquiring the stolen identities they used to secure employment, as well as hosting the computers the scammers used, making it appear that Jin, Han, and Xu were based in the US.

All in all, the DOJ says that the scheme, which impacted more than 300 companies, netted the North Korean government approximately $6.8 million. The agency also said that the three even made multiple attempts to secure similar IT positions at two US government agencies, but failed to do so.

Authorities tracked down and arrested Chapman in Litchfield Park, Arizona. Chapman is accused of not only helping agents find work, but of helping them connect to companies’ networks and laundering money from the scheme. Didenko, meanwhile, was arrested in Poland. The U.S. is asking that Didenko be extradited to the U.S. where he can be charged and prosecuted. Law enforcement also conducted raids on several U.S.-based properties that housed the laptop farms used by the criminals.

According to the DOJ, the group is part of a larger North Korean operation that is engaged in a number of illicit activities such as money laundering, exportation of luxury goods to North Korea, and online scams. The income generated from these activities are used to fund North Korea’s research, development, and purchase of weapons of mass destruction that include ballistic missiles and other armaments.

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