Arizona woman accused of involvement in major North Korean fraud scheme

May 17, 2024, 7:00 PM


An Arizona woman is being prosecuted for allegedly assisting in North Korean fraud schemes to place overseas IT workers in U.S. positions. (Pexels photo)

(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX — An Arizona woman is accused of helping North Korean workers infiltrate American companies, authorities announced on Thursday.

Christina Marie Chapman, who is from Litchfield Park, was arrested on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said. The 49-year-old is currently being prosecuted for fraud.

Chapman allegedly placed the foreign IT workers in remote positions at American companies. These workers posed as U.S. citizens and residents using stolen identities to get the jobs and raise revenue for North Korea, the DOJ said in a news release.

Chapman wasn’t the only suspect accused of helping the fraud scheme. A Ukrainian man and three unidentified foreign nationals also took part in the scheme, the DOJ said.

Chapman is charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, operating as an unlicensed money transmitting business and unlawful employment of aliens.

“On the surface, today’s allegations of wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering may read like a typical white collar or economic crime scheme,” Assistant Director Kevin Vorndran of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division added. “But what these allegations truly represent is a new high-tech campaign to evade U.S. sanctions, victimize U.S. businesses and steal U.S. identities.”

How did Chapman assist with North Korean fraud scheme?

Court documents said Chapman helped overseas IT workers get remote jobs at more than 300 U.S. companies. Chapman is connected to more than 60 Americans’ stolen identities, authorities said.

With Chapman’s help, workers gained employment at a top-five major television network, a Silicon Valley technology company, an aerospace manufacturer and several other Fortune 500 companies. According to the release, at least $6.8 million in revenue was generated.

The Department of Homeland Security seized funds related to Chapman, as well as wages and money accrued by more than 19 overseas IT workers.

Chapman hosted the overseas workers with a laptop farm inside her home to make them appear to operate from the U.S., authorities said

Special Agent Akil Davis marveled at the fact that a “woman living her quiet life in the outskirts of Phoenix” could be part of an international fraud scheme.

“This clearly indicates our adversaries are getting more sophisticated and stealthier,” Davis said in the news release. “It’s critical that businesses and citizens be hyper-vigilant with their cyber activities.”

Chapman will face a maximum penalty of 97.5 years in prison, including a mandatory minimum of two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft count.

The FBI Phoenix Field Office and IRS-CI Phoenix Field Office are investigating this case, with assistance from the FBI Chicago Field Office.

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Arizona woman accused of involvement in major North Korean fraud scheme