US warns against inadvertent hiring of North Korean IT workers

WASHINGTON: US officials warned companies not to inadvertently hire North Korean IT staff, saying rogue freelancers were taking advantage of remote work opportunities to hide their true identities and make money for Pyongyang.

In a notice issued by the State and Treasury departments and the FBI, the United States said the effort was intended to circumvent US and UN sanctions, and attract money for Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. from North.

“There are thousands of IT workers from the DPRK posted abroad and located within the DPRK, generating income that is remitted to the North Korean government,” the notice said.

“These IT workers take advantage of existing demands for specific IT skills, such as software and mobile app development, to secure freelance contract work from clients around the world, including in North America, Europe and East Asia,” the notice said.

Many North Korean workers pretended to be from South Korea, Japan or other Asian countries, according to the notice. He laid out a number of red flags for employers to watch out for, including refusal to participate in video calls and requests to receive payments in virtual currency.

US officials said the North Koreans were based primarily in China and Russia, with smaller numbers operating from Africa and Southeast Asia. Much of the money they earn goes to the North Korean government, they said.

Officials also said the companies that hired and paid such workers may be exposing themselves to legal consequences for sanctions violations.

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