TORONTO — A Mississauga, Ont. man is set to plead guilty to a federal charge which U.S. investigators say is tied to a major global effort by three North Korean cyber spies to steal from major banks, retaliate against foreign media companies who ridicule the regime and help Kim Jong-Un evade sanctions.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice named three North Korean hackers – Jon Chang Hyok, Kim Il and Park Jin Hyok – who allegedly engaged in a variety of schemes that included the 2014 cyber attack on Sony Pictures in retaliation for their North Korean-themed parody movie “The Interview,” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.
In addition to the movie hack, the three men, part of the North Korean military intelligence unit known as General Reconnaissance Bureau, allegedly attempted to steal close to $1.2 billion from major banks around the world, developed the ransomware “WannaCry 2.0” used to infect computer networks throughout the past three years and email phished U.S. government agencies and their contractors.
The WannaCry ransomware attack even hit Ontario transit agency Metrolinx.
They also allegedly sold micro shares in a secret shipping firm the North Korean regime allegedly used to buy and lease cargo ships to traffic contraband in violation of global sanctions.
In the course of the trio’s alleged thefts from major global banks, U.S. authorities say a man they identified as Ghaleb Alaumary of Mississauga helped the North Koreans launder their proceeds.
“Alaumary organized teams of co-conspirators in the United States and Canada to launder millions of dollars obtained through ATM cash-out operations, including from BankIslami and a bank in India in 2018,” the Department of Justice alleged Wednesday.
“Alaumary also conspired with Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, a.k.a. “Ray Hushpuppi,” and others to launder funds from a North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.”
U.S. officials say Alaumary has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection to the North Korean heists.
He is also being prosecuted in Georgia for an email phishing scam targeting businesses.
The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
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