North Korea is exploiting the current cryptocurrency ecosystem to raise money and circumvent sanctions according to a report from a threat intelligence firm, Recorded Future. Encrypted digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) run on a decentralized platform and hence do not need any financial intermediaries like governments and banks.
Threat intelligence firm tracks down CEO of Marine Chain Platform
Recorded Future researchers noticed in June the transfer of a large amount of data related to altcoin currencies and also discovered a scam on a blockchain platform called Marine Chain Platform. The firm traced the association of the blockchain scam to North Korea. The threat intelligence firm tracked the association of Captain Jonathan Foong Kah Keong, as the CEO of Marine Chain Platform.
The firm revealed Foong’s connection with Singaporean companies assisting North Korea in circumventing the sanctions since 2013 or even before that. The director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future, Priscilla Moriuchi said, “Cryptocurrencies are highly fluid, volatile, and in many cases, anonymous tools that are used by North Koreans to circumvent international identification and financial controls.”
Due to anonymity, it is almost impossible to track the end recipient of the coins. North Korea is mainly focusing on Monero (XRP) for fulfilling its intentions to raise scams in illegal ways. Reports from Recorded Future also said that the country can possibly use anonymous cryptocurrency tool Moriuchi, a type of mixer. It divides each transaction up to thousands of separate transactions each in a tiny part of the virtual currency.
With Moriuchi, the mixer can be basically a legal money launderer.
Recorded Future tracks two separate scams in 2018
The cyber threat intelligence firm discovered two separate scams related to digital currency this year. It tracked down the scam to a “North Korea-enablers” in Singapore. The firm reported that the scammers intended to con investors and divert funds into North Korea. “Hold” is another cryptocurrency scam listed on the exchanges in 2018 and later removed from the series. Later on, the exchanges listed it by a rebranded name called Huzu. Both these scams extracted everything from the investors leaving them dry and desperate.