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Hushpuppi laundered funds for North Korean hackers -US

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A fresh criminal charge is now hanging on the neck of Instagram influencer, Ramon Abbas alias Hushpuppi, in the United States where he is currently standing trial for conspiracy to launder money obtained from business email compromise frauds and other scams.

The Department of Justice said on Wednesday that the Nigeria born alleged  fraudster worked with North Korean hackers to launder funds stolen from a Maltese bank.

Specifically, Hushpuppi, is said to have taken part in a “North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.”

The magazine, Forbes, reported that the Justice Department referred to the attack as “a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution.”

Both the date and amount match that of the attack on Malta’s Bank of Valletta in February 2019.

Abbas’ name appeared in  details of “a series of destructive cyberattacks, to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies,” involving North Korean military hackers .

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate said Wednesday’s unsealed indictment expands the FBI’s 2018 charges for the “unprecedented cyberattacks conducted by the North Korean regime.” Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division added: “As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers.

The U.S. accuses  North Koreans Jon Chang Hyok, 31, Kim Il, 27, and Park Jin Hyok, 36, of being members of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), a military intelligence agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The three North Koreans are described in the statement as being connected to “North Korean military hacking units” known in the cybersecurity community as Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38 (APT38).

Abbas is linked to one specific part of the “broad array of criminal cyber activities undertaken by the conspiracy,” namely money laundering and the attack on a “foreign financial institution.

Abbas was linked to the North Korean conspiracy this week when federal prosecutors unsealed a charge against Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Ontario, Canada. Alaumary plead guilty to charges related to his role as a money launderer for the North Korean group filed in November 2020. The Justice Department connected Abbas to the North Korean hackers through Alaumary, who they allege “conspired” with “Ray Hushpuppi,” to “launder funds from a North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.”

The attack, although largely unsuccessful, was of such seriousness in Malta that the country’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, was forced to address parliament in 2019 over what the Times of Malta described as the “creation of false international payments that saw €13 million transferred to banks in four countries.” The amounts were reportedly “traced” and “reversed” and none of the bank’s customers lost their money.

Hushpuppi was arrested in Dubai in June 2020 and was subsequently extradited to the United States for trial

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