FBI warns crypto firms of North Korea move to cash out $40M in stolen Bitcoin

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned crypto companies that North Korea may soon attempt to cash out some of its illegally acquired Bitcoin worth more than $40 million.

In an Aug. 22 notice, the law enforcement agency revealed that North Korea-linked TraderTraitor-affiliated actors, including Lazarus Group and APT38, consolidated 1,580 BTC into six wallets during the last 24 hours.

North Korea-linked Bitcoin Wallets (Source: FBI)

“Private sector entities should examine the blockchain data associated with these addresses and be vigilant in guarding against transactions directly with, or derived from, the addresses,” part of the statement reads. “The FBI will continue to expose and combat the DPRK’s use of illicit activities—including cybercrime and virtual currency theft—to generate revenue for the regime.”

North Korea’s crypto thefts

North Korea’s involvement in illicit cryptocurrency activities, mainly through state-supported actors like the Lazarus hacking group, has raised concerns from authorities worldwide. A CryptoSlate report revealed that North Korean-backed hackers had stolen $497 million in cryptocurrencies from U.S. businesses since 2017.

Last year, Lazarus Group orchestrated two notable blockchain attacks, targeting  Horizon Bridge and Ronin Bridge. Besides that, the North Korean-backed hacker groups have also been linked to several major cryptocurrency security breaches this year. They include a $60 million attack on the cryptocurrency payment service Alphapo in July, a $37 million theft from CoinsPaid in June, and a staggering sum exceeding $100 million stolen from Atomic Wallet at the beginning of the same month.

In May, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned several addresses linked to North Korea, with Binance helping the U.S. Treasury seize $4.4 million from related individuals.

Before then, a British national, Christopher Douglas Emms, who helped North Korea evade imposed sanctions via crypto, was arrested in Moscow by the Russian Bureau of Interpol.

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