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Farming With Laptops

Credit card security
Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

On May 16, 2024, U.S. federal prosecutors charged Christine Marie Chapman with participating in a wide-ranging stolen identity scheme. Good news first. Part of the scheme involved numerous attempts to gain employment and access to information at two U.S. government agencies. These attempts were unsuccessful. The bad news is that the rest of the stolen identity scheme successfully generated nearly $7 million for the North Korean government. Some of those fraudulent funds were slotted to the country’s weapons program.

Thousands of North Korean information technology workers were ordered by the North Korean government to obtain remote employment at U.S.-based Fortune 500 companies using the stolen identities of over sixty Americans. Jobs that give them access to sensitive corporate data and lucrative paychecks from over three hundred 300 US companies, including a major national TV network, a Silicon Valley tech company, and an American car maker.

Chapman is accused of not only helping the North Korean workers obtain and validate the stolen identities but also receiving the laptops from the U.S. companies who thought they were sending the devices to legitimate employees. Chapman’s Arizona residence was the “laptop farm” for this scheme. So much easier than farming with chickens. Much more lucrative too. As the host, Chapman logged into the US company-issued laptops on behalf of the foreign IT workers to trick companies into believing the workers were living in the US. The overseas IT workers associated with Chapman’s cell were paid millions for their work, much of which had been falsely reported to the IRS and the Social Security Administration in the name of the actual U.S. persons whose identities were stolen or borrowed.

Chapman has been arrested and charged with nine counts of fraud including conspiracy to defraud the US. The State Department is offering a $5 million reward for information about certain North Korean IT workers who officials say were assisted by Chapman.

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Arizona woman charged in North Korean IT worker scheme that raised millions” published by CNN on May 16, 2024.

US federal prosecutors on Thursday charged an Arizona woman with participating in an elaborate fraud scheme to help foreign IT workers pose as Americans, get hired by major US companies and earn $6.8 million in revenue that could benefit the nuclear-armed North Korean regime.

The scheme compromised the identities of 60 Americans and affected 300 US companies, including a major national TV network, a “premier” Silicon Valley tech company, and an “iconic” American car maker, says an indictment unsealed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. The indictment did not name of the companies.

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