Arizona Woman Tricks US Fortune 500 Companies Into Hiring North Koreans For Remote Work

An Arizona woman is facing charges for helping North Koreans obtain remote US jobs and transfer earnings to North Korea, which violates US sanctions.According to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Christina Marie Chapman, 49, was arrested on Thursday and charged with nine counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States.Five people, including Chapman, are being prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department for their alleged involvement in a North Korean scheme that placed overseas IT workers posing as US citizens and residents in remote positions at US companies.”As alleged in the court documents, DPRK has dispatched thousands of skilled IT workers around the world, who used stolen or borrowed US persons’ identities to pose as domestic workers, infiltrate domestic companies’ networks, and raise revenue for North Korea,” the press release reads.DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Prosecutors allege the scheme, which began around 2020, exploited the stolen identities of approximately 60 US citizens.US Woman Accused in North Korean Remote Worker ScamThey alleged the scheme impacted over 300 companies and generated more than $6.8 million in revenue, which was funnelled back to North Korea. According to the indictment, Chapman facilitated overseas IT workers assuming the identities of US citizens, either stolen or borrowed and posing as Americans for remote work at US companies.

A recently unsealed indictment against Chapman and three North Korean citizens reveals Chapman was initially contacted in March 2020 by an unidentified individual offering her the role of “US face” for their company.US Companies Hire North Korean Tech WorkersThe indictment details how overseas workers used the scheme to secure remote jobs at prestigious US companies, including Fortune 500 entities. The indictment identified specific targets, including a major television network, a leading Silicon Valley tech company, an aerospace manufacturer, and an American carmaker.The indictment suggests the workers employed IP addresses to create the illusion of operating from within the US, precisely Chapman’s residence. Prosecutors said Chapman received and forged payroll checks, funnelling the foreign workers’ wages into her bank account.According to the indictment, a significant portion of the income (around $6.8 million) was misreported to the IRS and Social Security Administration under US citizens’ stolen or borrowed identities.In addition, the indictment claims Chapman charged the overseas workers monthly fees for her role in the scheme. Court documents do not currently list an attorney for Chapman. A separate criminal complaint, unsealed Thursday, also charged a Ukrainian man, Oleksandr Didenko, with running “laptop farms.”The Justice Department’s Criminal Division head, Nicole M. Argentieri, emphasised in the press release that these charges serve as a “wake-up call” for US companies utilising remote IT workers. In 2016, the United States enacted the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act to strengthen the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea.The 2016 North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act severed North Korea from the US financial system, prompting various attempts to evade these sanctions. In a press release, Kevin Vorndran, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, emphasised that while the allegations may resemble common white-collar crimes, they reflect a larger pattern.Criminals are increasingly leveraging technology to execute sophisticated scams. A recent report, for instance, exposed a gift card scam targeting Instacart shoppers, jeopardising both customers and delivery workers.Another report detailed a scheme by a Chinese scammer who employed thousands of smartphones to artificially inflate live-stream viewership, accumulating 3 million yuan (approximately £332,435.75) within four months.

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