North Korean IT Workers Caught Posing As US IT Employees, Arrests Made

North Korean IT Workers Caught Posing As US IT Employees, Arrests Made

Tyler Cross Tyler Cross
Published on: May 23, 2024

The US Department of Justice recently indicted a citizen for helping North Korean actors pose as US IT employees, even seeking jobs in the US government.

The fake IT employees gained varying levels of control over more than 300 companies, creating a threat to national cybersecurity. These companies included Fortune 500 companies and American defense contractors.

Three arrests were made, including US citizens Christina Marie Chapman and Minh Phuong Vong and Ukranian national Oleksandr Didenko. While Chapman and Vong were arrested in the US, Didenko was arrested in Poland.

The indictment for Chapman accuses her of using 60+ stolen identities to help facilitate North Koreans entering US IT departments. She also ran a laptop farm from her home where overseas workers used to appear as if they were living in the United States.

“According to a May 2022 advisory by the Department of State, the Department of Treasury, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, North Korea has dispatched thousands of highly-skilled information technology (IT) workers around the world,” the indictments reads. “Chapman assisted the overseas IT workers in validating stolen identity information of US citizens so the overseas workers could pose as US citizens.”

She currently faces nine counts of conspiracy to defraud the US, which can carry a sentence of up to 15 years.

The second arrest made in the US, Vong, is being charged with wire fraud (amongst a slew of accusations). He also outsourced work to North Korean IT employees while keeping a cut of their pay for himself.

Didenko is being charged with running UpWorkSell, a website that helped overseas IT employees fake their credentials.

The US hasn’t fully cracked the conspiracy, however. Multiple known affiliates in the scheme are still at large. As such, they’re offering a reward of $5 million for information that would lead to disruption of North Korea’s gang activity.

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