Wanted to avoid sanctions: USA arrests woman and man for IT fraud for North Korea

Wanted to avoid sanctions
USA arrests woman and man for IT fraud for North Korea


It’s a pretty complex case: In the US, a woman and a man help North Koreans pretend to be Americans in order to get remote jobs. The revenue should then flow to the dictatorship. The system has been exposed. Now arrests follow.

In the USA, prosecutors have announced the arrest of an American woman and a Ukrainian man. The US Department of Justice said they helped North Korea-affiliated IT workers impersonate Americans in order to obtain remote jobs at hundreds of US companies. According to the ministry, a sophisticated scheme was aimed at generating revenue for North Korea in violation of international sanctions.

The suspects are said to have stolen the identities of more than 60 Americans in order to infiltrate more than 300 US companies, including Fortune 500 companies and banks. These foreign IT employees also allegedly tried to get jobs at two U.S. government agencies to gain access to internal information, but were unsuccessful, according to the ministry. Last week, a lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Washington against the American, the Ukrainian and three other foreigners.

The statement from the US Department of Justice now shows that the American woman was arrested on Wednesday. The Ukrainian was already arrested last Tuesday by Polish authorities at the request of the United States, which is now requesting his extradition. The State Department announced a reward of up to $5 million for information about the defendants’ alleged co-conspirators.

A wake-up call

The head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, Nicole Argentieri, said the alleged crimes benefited the North Korean government by providing it with a source of income and, in some cases, protected information. The charges should now be a wake-up call for American companies and government agencies that employ remote IT workers, Argentieri said. An earlier State Department statement said North Korea made at least $6.8 million through schemes like this.

It said the North Koreans involved were connected to North Korea’s Defense Industry Department, which oversees the country’s ballistic missile development, weapons production and research and development programs. North Korea is under UN sanctions aimed at cutting funding for its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

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