WASHINGTON—U.S. authorities on Thursday moved to seize 280 cryptocurrency accounts they said were used by North Korean hackers who stole more than a quarter of a billion dollars from cryptocurrency companies around the world, including one in the U.S.
The U.S. Justice Department said the accounts targeted in the civil forfeiture filing were used by the North Korean hackers and their Chinese agents to launder some of the money stolen from more than a dozen virtual currency exchanges, a series of cyber thefts over the past two years amounting to more than $300 million.
“Today’s action publicly exposes the ongoing connections between North Korea’s cyber-hacking program and a Chinese cryptocurrency money laundering network,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
The filing is the first publicly announced case of a U.S.-based virtual currency company being targeted by North Korea, officials said. The company, which the Justice Department said focused on the Algorand blockchain, is referred to in the filing only as “Exchange 10.”
Along with a flurry of other recent actions taken by other federal agencies, Thursday’s filing shows that even while top Trump officials say tensions with nuclear-armed Pyongyang have cooled, U.S. law-enforcement and national-security officials view North Korea as a significant threat to national security and the global financial system. Pyongyang’s regime uses the proceeds from cyber theft to fund its military and its nuclear-weapons program, according to United Nations experts and U.S. officials.