3 North Koreans, 1 American accused by DOJ of ‘staggering fraud’ involving Fortune 500 companies

A trio of North Koreans and an American are accused of a “staggering” fraud scheme in a Justice Department indictment unsealed Thursday that accused them of operating a complex operation securing work with multiple major American corporations and government agencies.

The North Korean tech workers, known under the aliases Jiho Han, Chunji Jin and Haoran Xu, are accused of using the stolen identities of 60 Americans to get remote work jobs across the country, with the hope of funneling cash and information back to North Korea.

Taking advantage of remote work, the North Koreans would juggle multiple jobs at a time, with the employers believing their new hire was an American. The work, between October 2020 and last year, garnered about $7 million for the North Korean government.

“The conspiracy perpetrated a staggering fraud on a multitude of industries, at the expense of generally unknowing U.S. companies and persons,” the indictment read. “It impacted more than 300 U.S. companies, compromised the identities of U.S. persons, caused false information to be conveyed to DHS [Department of Homeland Security] on more than 100 occasions, created false tax liabilities for more than 35 U.S. persons, and resulted in at least $6.8 million of revenue for the overseas IT workers.”

The group was allegedly aided by American citizen Christina Chapman, who the Justice Department said worked as an intermediary between the workers and the companies and forged checks to transfer their salaries to North Korea.

The companies that fell victim to the scheme were not specifically named, but included a “top five” television network, a Silicon Valley tech firm, an aerospace manufacturer, an “iconic” American car company, 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 three North Koreans also attempted to use the stolen identities to work for and access information at two unnamed federal agencies, though those attempts were unsuccessful, the indictment said.

The State Department announced a $5 million bounty on Thursday for information leading to the arrest of the North Koreans. Chapman was arrested Wednesday in Arizona.

Chapman was charged with nine felonies, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S.

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