National / Crime & Legal

North Korea may have played a role in massive ¥1.86 billion ATM fraud at Japanese convenience stores in 2016: U.N. panel

JIJI

North Korea may have been involved in a case in which ¥1.86 billion was withdrawn fraudulently from ATMs in Japan in 2016, a U.N. panel said in an interim report on Thursday.

The cash was withdrawn all at once early on May 15, 2016, from ATMs at convenience stores in 17 prefectures including Tokyo, Aichi and Osaka, through the use of counterfeit credit cards made with customer information from South Africa’s Standard Bank.

The government told a panel of the U.N. Security Council sanctions committee on North Korea that some 260 people were arrested in the case as of July 9 this year.

The interim report did not mention specifically how North Korea might have been involved in the theft.

The panel is conducting investigations on suspicion that North Korea took part in 35 cyberattacks against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges in 17 countries, including the Standard Bank case.

Elsewhere in the report, the panel said North Korea is suspected of having earned some $2 billion through cyberattacks to finance its weapons of mass destruction program.

As part of North Korea’s cyberattack methods, the panel cited attacks against financial institutions through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication system and thefts of cryptocurrency via attacks on exchanges used for such assets and their users.