Authorities Bust $7M North Korean Telecom Fraud Scheme

( – On May 16th, the Department of Justice announced charges against an Arizona woman, Christina Chapman, 49, and three North Korean nationals who were allegedly using a complex scheme of securing illicit work with various American companies to commit “staggering fraud.”

Chapman was arrested on May 15th and faces a maximum sentence of 97 years in prison for charges that she conspired to defraud the United States.

The three North Korean workers are each charged with money laundering. However, the exact location of the North Korean information technology workers, who were working remotely from overseas, is unknown, according to federal prosecutors.

The indictment, which uses the aliases Jiho Han, Haoran Xu, and Chunji Jin for the Korean workers, alleges that the workers secured telework positions with over 300 companies between October 2020 and 2023 by using false identities that belonged to 60 U.S. citizens. Through that work, the group was able to profit close to $7 million for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The indictment notes that the three workers were under the direction of a manager identified only as “Zhonghua” in court documents.

According to prosecutors, the three workers were employed by various companies, including “a Silicon Valley technology company, an aerospace manufacturer, an American car manufacturer,” and many others. While they attempted to get positions at two different government agencies,” prosecutors stated they were “generally unsuccessful.”

According to prosecutors, Chapman allegedly ran a “laptop farm” from various homes, hosting multiple computers belonging to U.S. companies, making it appear the computers the workers were using overseas were located in the United States. The indictment alleges Chapman also received their paychecks, forging their signatures so she could transfer the funds to her bank account. According to the indictment, Chapman allegedly charged the workers a monthly fee before transferring the money to them.

In a May 16th statement, the State Department announced a reward of up to $5 million for any information about the three North Korean workers that would cause their scheme to be disrupted.

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