HowAfrica recalls that in July 2020, Hushpuppi was charged by the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles with conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from “business email compromise” (BEC) frauds and other scams.
In a statement released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, Hushpuppi was accused of taking part in a “North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.”
In a July statement, the DOJ 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.
According to DOJ, Hushpuppi and some North Korean military hackers involved in “a series of destructive cyberattacks, to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies.”
FBI Deputy Director, Paul Abbate, said in the statement that 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 US is specifically accusing 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).
Hushpuppi was linked to the North Korean conspiracy this week when federal prosecutors unsealed a charge against Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Ontario, Canada. Alaumary pled guilty to charges related to his role as a money launderer for the North Korean group filed in November 2020.
The DoJ connected Hushpuppi 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.”
HowAfrica had reported how Hushpuppi and his 10 gang members were arrested in the United Arab Emirate, Dubai on June 10, 2020, for defrauding over 1.9 million victims to the tune of $435.6 million (N168 billion).
Amongst other charges, Hushpuppi and his accomplices were also accused of conspiring to steal £100 million (approximately $124 million) from an English Premier League soccer club.
On Friday, July 4, 2020, Hushpuppi was charged with the conspiracy to commit money laundering before a United States court, one for which he could get a maximum jail term of 20 years if convicted.