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Criminals Allegedly Rent Illegal Gambling Sites from North Korea

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South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) has reported that an online criminal group in South Korea has been utilizing gambling websites created by North Korea.

The NIS alleges that the criminal organization hired Gyeongheung, an IT company with links to the North Korea Workers Party's Office 39, a unit known for raising money for the country's leadership through both illicit and legitimate means.

It is thought that Gyeongheung is based in Dandong, a coastal city with prefectural status located in the south-eastern Liaoning province in China. This would be strategically advantageous as it would enable North Korean workers to be employed by China’s clothing industry, avoiding UN sanctions.

Related: South Korea’s Troubling Blend of Piracy and Teenage Gambling Addiction

Billions Generated by Illegal Websites

The NIS believes these illegal gambling platforms have brought in billions in profits and also stolen the personal data of South Korean citizens. Reports from local media claim that the South Korean criminals paid $5,000 monthly for each website to the North Korean setup. An additional $3,000 monthly fee was charged for technical support for each site.

Initial estimates from NIS are that Gyeongheung created thousands of illegal gambling websites and that they began to generate proceeds as soon as they were rented by the South Korean criminal group.

The issue extends beyond the illegal gambling revenues. The sites are also said to contain malware embedded within an auto-play feature, which steals the players’ personal information. It is thought that more than 1,100 pieces of personal information were stolen using the malware, and the criminal group then tried to sell it.

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